When newly elected Mayor Francis Slay gave his inaugural address in the City Hall rotunda, he pleaded for folks to "come back" to the city in a "give us your tired commuter" take on the Statue of Liberty's plea. "For those of you who may be tired of the commute from Highland or Florissant, O'Fallon, Chesterfield, Clayton or Town & Country -- come back home. We want you here in our city," Slay speechified. So who in the hell lives in Highland, Ill.? Carolyn Tuft, the Post-Dispatch reporter who covered the Midnite Basketball fiasco under former Mayor Freeman Bosley Jr. and the City Living Foundation mess under former Mayor Clarence Harmon. Heightened attention by this town's daily paper of record in the last year of the Bosley and Harmon administrations played a key role in their election defeats. Slay's mention of Highland is a type of theatrical aside to a groundling that may be a sign, along with naming media maven Jeff Rainford chief of staff and keeping PR wizmeister Richard Callow inside the tent, that the new mayor realizes the importance of media manipulation. Perceived reality might just trump reality, provided the real thing doesn't get too ugly. Let's see whether Slay's inner circle still has open arms for Tuft if the Post does its usual drift from whoever's in Room 200 once the Pulitzer pack realizes Slay can't make water run uphill -- or get people to move back to the city.
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