Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Darlene Green: 'It Is Arrogance for Elected Officials to Strip the Public of Its Right to Vote'

Posted By on Wed, Feb 20, 2019 at 4:15 PM

Comptroller Darlene Green. - DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • DANNY WICENTOWSKI
  • Comptroller Darlene Green.
After activists flocked to today's meeting of St. Louis' Board of Estimate & Apportionment to push for a city-wide vote on airport privatization, one of the three officials on that board came out swinging in support of their efforts.

City Comptroller Darlene Green, who has been an insistent voice against the privatization gambit, issued a sharply worded statement criticizing the "arrogance" of elected officials who would "place themselves as the ultimate authorities and strip the public of its right to vote when the offices they hold are owed to public trust."

The E&A board must approve all city contracts and expenditures, giving it in some ways even more clout than the Board of Aldermen. Last spring, Green was in the minority of a 2-1 E&A vote that allowed the hiring of consultants tasked with finding a private company to lease St. Louis Lambert International Airport.



At the time, she argued that a public vote must be part of any such plan.

But Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed flipped his vote from a "no" to a "yes" on the consultants' hire after his campaign donors were added to the contract. That gave Mayor Lyda Krewson the second vote she needed to overcome Green's opposition and push the contract through.

Reed has since claimed he's in favor of a public vote, but has done little to ensure that it happens. (One of his allies even recently blocked a board bill calling for a public vote.) He is currently facing two serious challengers for reelection in the city's Democratic primary on March 5.

Green's statement doesn't name Reed, but could be used to keep the pressure on him. In its entirety, it states the following:

“My position has been and will always be that the citizens of St. Louis are smart enough and informed enough to make important decisions about major assets and long-term economic strategies by public vote. It is arrogance for elected officials to place themselves as the ultimate authorities and strip the public of its right to vote when the offices they hold are owed to public trust. Our obligation as elected officials is to the people who elected us, not to any outside special interest.”

The activists who visited the meeting are part of the Expect Us group, which organized protests after former police officer Jason Stockley's acquittal on murder charges. They did not disrupt the agenda but spoke after official business was concluded.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at sarah.fenske@riverfronttimes.com

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