City sued to block public subsidy for Scottrade Center improvements | political eye
The City of St. Louis was sued Friday, Aug. 11, in an attempt to stop the city from using public funds to fund $62 million in improvements to Scottrade Center, where the St. Louis Blues play home.
The costume was worn by 20th Ward Alderwoman Cara Spencer; state representative Jeanette MottOxford, executive director of Empower Missouri; and Jacques Wilsonformer city councilman.
Spencer said the legislation (Ordinance 70473) authorizing this funding is unconstitutional and was passed in February under false pretences. Spencer and Wilson are represented by an attorney Erich Viethand lawyer John Amman of Saint Louis University Legal Clinics represents Mott Oxford.
Spencer said hockey executives repeatedly testified that the city owned the building and was therefore obligated to pay for the upgrades. She said that two of the bill’s co-sponsors, the president of the college of aldermen Lewis Roseau and alderman Jack Coatarrepeated these claims during the debate on the bill.
However, Spencer said the aldermen were never given a copy of the actual lease during deliberation, despite repeatedly asking for it.
“When I finally got my hands on the lease (about six weeks ago) and found out we never had to, I was appalled,” Spencer said.
The lease shows the Blues have a responsibility to make their own improvements at Scottrade, the lawsuit says.
“If our intention was to take this burden currently held by the Blues and transfer it to City, that should have been clear,” Spencer said. “We passed an ordinance that is against the lease in place.”
She also claimed the order was illegal.
“It is against the state constitution to invest public money in a private corporation to increase its profits,” Spencer said.
Controller Darlene Green released a statement on Friday, saying it did not approve the issuance of the Scottrade Center Renovation Bonds, “because it would result in a liability to the city’s general fund for non-essential services and adversely impact on the credit of the city”.
The city is facing a credit crunch, having been downgraded twice in less than six months by credit rating agency Moody’s, Green said.
In January, Green released a letter that said, “The city’s current budget revenues should not be considered part of an economic incentive package when planning project financing. The economic incentive program should not include adding new municipal debt or using current city credit or revenue as a backdrop.
And Green is holding firm today. In his statement, Green said if the city wants to upgrade Scottrade Center, it must work “within a framework that protects the credit of the City of St. Louis and does not reduce current revenues intended to provide essential city services.” city, such as utilities. safety, to our taxpayers.
Deputy City Councilor Michael Garvin said in a statement that the city “will vigorously defend the city, its ordinances and its agreements.”
He added that the order “was approved by the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, the Board of Aldermen, the Board of Estimate and Allocation and signed by the then Mayor. Francois Slay.”
Among the defendants named in the lawsuit are the city, the St. Louis Blues Hockey Club and the Kiel Center Partners – which are responsible for completing the renovation project under the funding agreement passed in February.
In a statement, Kiel Center Partners called the lawsuit “frivolous, disappointing and embarrassing to our city,” and added that it could be extremely costly for taxpayers and St. Louis’ reputation.
Then, on August 15, Kiel Center Partners filed a writ of mandamus to demand that Green “execute and deliver the financing agreement”, authorizing the issuance of bonds to finance the Scottrade Center renovations.
“The delay has now reached the point where we have no alternative but to seek legal redress,” according to an Aug. 15 statement from Kiel Center Partners.
Green said she was being sued for doing her job, citing the city charter provision that allows her to defend the city’s credit rating.
The owners of the St. Louis Blues and Scottrade Center signed a 50-year lease with the city in 1992, which requires them to pay rent of just $1 a year, the lawsuit says. In return, they have sole and exclusive control of the Scottrade Center, the power to build on the land and the right to retain all profits. However, the lease stipulates that they must carry out their own repairs and improvements at the Scottrade Center, according to the lawsuit.
In January, Blues owners told a press conference that “we’re going to need the city to invest alongside Blues ownership.”
“What the order requires, however, is not an investment or even a loan,” the lawsuit states. “The ordinance requires the city to make a huge cash donation to hockey owners. The ordinance requires the city to return $105.9 million to hockey owners over a 30-year period.
Spencer said the city agreed to retain ownership of the land for the sole purpose of providing an extended property tax abatement.
“It was never the intention of the parties involved that the city maintain the facility, a fact the lease makes abundantly clear,” Spencer said.
The primary purpose of the order is to further the private business interests of a for-profit corporation, according to the lawsuit. This violates Article VI, Section 25 of the Missouri Constitution because “it continuously grants substantial public funds to a for-profit corporation for the purpose of assisting such corporation to realize further profits for itself”, indicates the trial.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the 22nd Circuit Court, asks the court to declare the order unenforceable. The prosecution was assigned to Judge Robert Dierker Jr.
“We don’t have that kind of money,” Spencer said. “We struggled to balance the budget this time around.” The city faced a projected shortfall of $17 million in the current budget year.
Spencer argued that the city will never go “anywhere” without establishing some sort of regional tax agency if it wants to attract and retain professional sports teams.
She said, “We can’t do these things alone.
NAACP alleges discrimination at Southwest Airlines
During the Ferguson Troubles in 2014, several white Southwest Airlines employees in St. Louis posted on social media, “We have to tolerate niggas here at work, but if they come to our neighborhoods we’ll shoot them,” according to an NAACP. report published on August 10.
The St. Louis station manager reported the incident to senior executives at the airline’s Dallas headquarters, according to the report, but no formal investigation was conducted.
These employees were not terminated, according to the NAACP.
It’s among more than 45 complaints the City of St. Louis branch NAACP documents in its Aug. 10 report on the racial environment at Southwest Airlines’ St. Louis station. The airline controls 52.5% of scheduled service at Lambert.
“The issue of discrimination in the workplace is an issue that we take very seriously,” according to the NAACP.
The NAACP report details events where the N-word was allegedly written on walls in employee spaces and “shouted” over the company’s internal radio. The report also includes disparate work and discipline requirements for African Americans.
Jeff Hart, who is black, is currently the station manager in St. Louis and is in charge of all local operations for the airline. However, any discipline must go through the Texas corporate human resources department, said Adolphus Pruitt, President of the City of St. Louis NAACP. The NAACP has found that a large part of the problem lies in the willingness of station supervisors and middle managers to report complaints to senior management, Pruitt said.
The NAACP requires Southwest to release information about its numbers on hiring and firing practices by race, as well as the number of complaints against supervisors and managers that have been investigated.
Pruitt said the NAACP will launch a campaign called “We’re Flying Southwest and We Want to Know,” which will include a petition among Southwest customers demanding information.
“We’re going to keep fighting,” Pruitt said.
A Southwest Airlines spokesperson shared with The American a letter from the CEO Gary Kelley where Kelley expresses disappointment that Pruitt has decided to “sensationalise these alleged incidents through the media” rather than give the airline more details as requested.
“Southwest does not condone or tolerate any form of discrimination,” a spokesperson said. The Americansaying the company is investigating the allegations.
“We continue to remain open and willing to meet and speak directly with the City of St. Louis Chapter of the NAACP,” the spokesperson said, “but we will not release information about our internal investigations.” .