Letters to the Editor

NO SMALL TIF(F)

To the Editor:
Let me understand this: The greedy slimeballs over at the Sansone Group get free taxpayer money to glut already overdeveloped areas with strip-mall complexes, essentially stealing desperately needed funds from school districts and truly blighted communities -- and they don't even have to pay income tax ("Easy Money," RFT, June 2)?

The most offensive thing about that isn't the nauseatingly flagrant abuse of the system by a bunch of good ol' boys or even the disregard for the best interests of citizens and cities. It's the fact that the middle class, by its complacence and love affair with all things convenient, doesn't do a damn thing to stop it.

Shannon Shepherd

To the Editor:
In an article that explained TIF matters very well, C.D. Stelzer noted that PGAV Urban Consulting is a St. Louis-based firm "specializing in TIF-related matters" and that such firms "have honed the art of defining large tracts of land ... as blighted or in danger of blight.... " PGAV is no stranger to St. Charles. The company makes campaign donations to local candidates and is often hired as a consultant to the city. PGAV helped the St. Charles Station Casino get a TIF for redevelopment so that the city could get a convention center. The TIF passed for the casino, but the city still doesn't have a convention center.

Last year, PGAV conducted a workshop for a St. Charles city TIF commission considering another convention-center site. When that passed, PGAV walked the city council through a positive take on the plan, which, at its core, would benefit certain developers. In that deal, the city paid top dollar for a site off I-70 that turned out to be "topographically challenged," in the words of PGAV spokesman John Brancaglioni.

The site is on a slope, but, as I pointed out to the city council, so is most of the city. Branson would be ecstatic to own such a slope. Incidentally, Brancaglioni also presented the architectural plans for the site to the TIF commission.

Cities -- elected officials -- pay experts like PGAV thousands of dollars to argue the merits of TIFs to local boards, commissions and elected officials, but I was given three minutes to tell the city, for free, why I thought the TIF was nonsense. The TIF passed, but St. Charles still doesn't have a convention center. If we get one, current plans call for building it on a "topographically challenged" slope overlooking scenic I-70 instead of in downtown St. Charles, where the convention attractions are located.

I believe that, if he'd been paid to do so, Brancaglioni could have easily argued the merits of a TIF to build a convention center in downtown St. Charles.

Peggy Bradbury

GUN METTLE

To the Editor:
I am a gun owner and fully appreciate the purpose and meaning of the Second Amendment. I am also a strong supporter of gun-control laws. Why? Because I am "reasonable."

The NRA's absurd new PR campaign, "Be Reasonable," offends and infuriates me ("Commentary," "The NRA Goes 'Reasonable,'" RFT, June 2). How reasonable is the NRA when they oppose all legislation that would not affect 99.9 percent of all law-abiding gun owners? Another industry whose products require responsible use is the auto industry. I haven't seen them fight seat-belt or child-safety-seat laws. If mandatory-air-bag laws were proposed, would they fight them tooth and nail? The answer is no. The auto industry is responsible and reasonable enough to voluntarily research and implement new ways to make their products safer for the public. Why shouldn't the gun industry have safety regulations like similar industries? If they aren't responsible or reasonable enough to do it themselves, then the government needs to.

The only purposes a law-abiding citizen would need a gun for are self-defense, hunting, target shooting and collecting. Any other purpose probably would not qualify you as a law-abiding citizen. How would safety locks or not owning an assault rifle inhibit any of those activities? Do we really need armor-piercing or exploding ammunition for self-defense? Is waiting a week for a new handgun to go target shooting really going to inconvenience us that much? I will buy more guns in the future. But I am reasonable enough to know that a mandatory safety lock or a week's wait isn't going to change what kind of gun I buy or infringe upon my right to bear arms.

I understand that gun-control laws won't solve the problems we face today, but they are a part of the solution. I challenge every member of the NRA to think hard and long if they really agree with the propaganda and rhetoric that the NRA controls its members with. Think about it. And be reasonable.

Dave Colvin

To the Editor:
I would like to tell you a little about myself. I am female, Jewish, pro-choice and an environmentalist. I am also a member of the NRA. And after reading your editorial "The NRA Goes 'Reasonable,'" I thought, "I don't send them enough money!" So tonight, after sending this note to you, I am sending a letter of thanks to the NRA, along with a check.

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