People & Places

Staff Pick

Best Politician 

Eric Schmitt

Last year, the unrest in Ferguson drew attention to a stark injustice: taxation by citation. Ferguson and other tiny municipalities in north St. Louis County were funding their fiefdoms largely through tickets and fines for petty offenses — and all too often, the people being targeted were poor and black. Once revealed, these schemes elicited howls of outrage. Someone in power had to act. Improbably, that someone turned out to be a white Republican from Glendale: State Senator Eric Schmitt. Risking conservative friendships, Schmitt teamed up with left-leaning adversaries to pass Senate Bill 5 in July. It lowered the allowable ticket revenue in the county and set up an ingenious enforcement mechanism: A muni could keep writing a slew of tickets, but if it did, its very existence would be put to a vote by its residents. Schmitt recently penned an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he said that while violence and vandalism are "inexcusable," so is a "burdensome and exploitative government." Amen.

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