Today, in the Post, Messenger falsely charges Executive Stenger "Stands in the Way" of Regionalism but is it Tony Messenger who stands in the way, for to Messenger Regionalism is but a highway to Downtown:
Denver is the model for Regionalism, which will never ever happen in Saint Louis.
First—Regionalism must be lead by the Business Community, for only that Community has the capacity to punish wayward politicians. Any careful observer of the St. Louis Business Community will note it has no appetite for Regionalism but instead it wants to play one jurisdiction off against another. Moreover, from the number of "silos" (e.g., Edward Jones, Wells Fargo, Monsanto, MasterCard, and Centene's fortress approach to its Clayton office) one may fairly infer firms in St. Louis don't want their employees walking out the front doors and networking with others, defeating the entire purpose of a City.
In Denver, the Business Community realized it had a long run interest in Regionalism and it drove the process of negotiating a Regional Agreement, enforceable against the recalcitrant.
Denver's turnaround began with a regional agreement, signed in January 1987, which laid out the region's shared economic principles. The mayors of Denver and surrounding areas still gather once a month to meet on economic plans. And, even though the original regional agreement remains voluntary, people stick to the core ideas. "It's an approach to regionalism that's about creating a culture instead of a legal structure," Clark adds. "People want to behave at the highest level of ethics, provided the guy next door does, too."Politico recently updated the Denver story.
Economic development consultant Tom Clark arrived in town in the middle of the crisis. “We lost what little corporate leadership we had: They were running district offices and they just left town,” he recalls. “The head of the Denver Post left to run the L.A. Times. What we had left was the merchant class, those who depended on the area economy for a living.”
“After three years of finger-pointing trying to figure out who the hell screwed this up so we can drag them into the city square and tie them up and spit on them, people realized it didn’t matter; we had to move forward,” Clark, now CEO of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp., says. “They looked around and they said: ‘This place has been boom and bust for as long as we can remember. The Gold rush. The silver boom. The three-legged stool economy of Coors, carbon and the Cold War, where the only one that was stable was Coors. We’re sick of this.’ So we got serious about diversity in the economy.”
The result was a great pact organized by the metropolitan chamber of commerce. All the cities and towns in the nine-county region agreed not to poach jobs and businesses from one another, but rather to work together within Clark’s economic development corporation to attract opportunities to the region or push for major collective investments like a proper transit system or a new airport to replace the aging Stapleton Airport. “The idea was that as we work together, everyone will get their fair share in the long run and collectively we’ll all gain by making the pie bigger,” Schroeppel notes.
“No more moving around the chairs in the Titanic,” Clark recalls. “And the ethics were: If you steal from someone else, you’re out of the family forever.”Second—Regionalism requires written agreement but we all know the Board of Aldermen of the City of Saint Louis are never, ever going to cede their political power to a written regional agreement. Aldermanic Courtesy is too strong a political force.
In addition, we have too many Uber Liberals like Tony Messenger who see Regionalism as a one way highway to Downtown and who will falsely charge that anyone who objects to whatever is politically expedient at the moment to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen is being anti-Regional.
Mayor Slay's actions were stealing from everyone else. Rail is obsolete technology, yet the Mayor wants to spend billions (condemnation lawyers, construction firms, and trade unions will benefit), but not the public. The City could never pay for the North South connector so it wants money from the County, treating County taxpayers as but a gaggle of geese, but County taxpayers will reap little if any benefit from the line.
Executive Stenger is right to ask, wouldn't County residents better benefit from being connected to the Airport, Clayton, and several institutions or higher education?