Yesterday, the St. Louis Police Officers' Association officially caved
. For the first time since the Civil War, the association agreed to allow City Hall -- and not the governor's office -- oversee control of the St. Louis police department.
So what happened? The police union ran into an even bigger bully than itself: mega-millionaire Rex Sinquefield
For years the union had battled City Hall in the state legislature -- and won -- by convincing politicians (mostly from Bumblefuck, Missouri) that giving the city control of its own police force would lead to chaos and corruption in the big city. The police union's argument? "If you're so concerned about law-and-order, Mr. State Senator, you really do not want to give St. Louis control of its own police force!"
Last March, Sinquefield proposed an end-run around the legislature when he got several initiative petitions approved
that would ask Missouri voters to change the state Constitution and allow local control of
the St. Louis and Kansas City police departments. Still, that wasn't quite enough to force the hand of legislators who once again failed to approve a local-control bill for St. Louis during a special session this fall.
Following that defeat, Sinquefield planned to retool his initiative petitions
and ask voters to change the state statutory law to allow the St. Louis police to return to local control. That ballot proposal was hardly a done deal. Sinquefield's "A Safer Missouri" would still need to collect thousands of signatures to land the issue on the ballot and then spend thousands -- if not millions -- of dollars to promote and advertise the issue prior to the November 2012 election.
Apparently, though, just the threat of a state vote on the St. Louis issue was enough to break the union's back. The police officers' association announced this week it would agree to compromise -- mostly because of Sinquefield's action
. It would allow local control in exchange for the city keeping the department's pension intact.
Not everyone is happy with the compromise. State senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal (D - University City) killed the local control bill this fall during the legislature's special session. Yesterday she told the Post-Dispatch
that "sugar daddies" like Rex Sinquefield are using their millions of dollars to upstage the will of the people. "Democracy is a right, not a stock, bond or mutual fund a single person can buy up," she told the daily.
That was so easy, one wonders why it took 150 years to figure out?