City Limits

A coalition of St. Louis mayors looking to change the city's charter finds the going rough

"I think it's going to be nearly impossible," says Shrewsbury. "The only way these type of fiefdoms ever get changed is when there is either a major scandal or when a metropolitan problem gets so bad that people have to rise above politics. The sewer district was an example. All these little municipalities, the county and the city, couldn't manage their own sewer systems, so in the late 1950s and early 1960s you needed a Metropolitan Sewer District -- not because the politicians wanted it; it was because the realities dictated it."

Even if people generally want governmental reform, change is hard to come by.

"It's like aldermanic-ward reduction on the ballot on 1983," Shrewsbury recalls. "Most people supported it, but it was overwhelmingly rejected by the voters. It's the sort of issue that people who are opposed to it will move heaven and hell to defeat it, whereas people who support it probably have something else to do on election day.

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