Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield understand that many of our local governments are operating under archaic structures and with constrained resources. They also understand that those are the very organizations who are least likely to have the resources—both human and financial—to assemble data, develop improvement strategies and then implement them. They have dedicated a portion of their philanthropic efforts to fill this gap.
Consolidation and Reform
As recently as 2014 St. Louis residents didn’t even know the cost of all local governments or the extent of duplication. Certainly no meaningful reform could be considered without assembly and review of existing data and practices. To facilitate the accumulation of this data, Sinquefield became an early and generous donor to Better Together, a not-for-profit dedicated to examining municipal and county governments in St. Louis City and County and then making recommendations for reform.
In 1997 the FAA initiated a program that would allow a small number of US airports to be leased to private operators. In return, the operators would be expected to 1) fund capital improvements at the airport; 2) improve the operations and services provided at the airport and 3) provide much-needed cash to strapped cities. Former City of St. Louis mayor Francis Slay was interested in exploring this program but knew that effort would cost millions of dollars and he didn’t feel that the city could put that money into a project when the outcome was unknown. Slay asked, and Sinquefield agreed, to underwrite the cost of exploring that option for St. Louis’s airport. Slay’s successor, Mayor Lyda Krewson, decided to continue the project. The outcome of this effort is expected to be known late in 2018 or early in 2019.
Local Control of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
Under an old law originally passed during the Civil War, the state government controlled Saint Louis City’s police operations and police budget, yet the City paid the bills. This antiquated law did not make sense from a safety perspective, nor did it make sense from a budgetary perspective. Rex, who grew up in the City of Saint Louis, supported the Safer Missouri Citizens’ Coalition and its efforts to return control of the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department to where it belonged: with the people and the City of Saint Louis.
The Safe Missouri Coalition Initiative was intended to save state and local taxpayers millions of dollars and increase the efficiency, accountability, and effectiveness of the police department. This initiative was supported by the Saint Louis Police Officers Association, Saind Louis City officials, including former Mayor Francis Slay, and taxpayer advocates. On a local referendum in 2010, nearly 70 percent of voters in Saint Louis voted in favor of restoring local control.
After years of work by activists and forward-thinking legislators, in November 2012, Missouri voters passed Proposition A, which returned control of the police department to the people and the City of Saint Louis, with an overwhelming 63.9% of the vote. Then on August 31st, 2013, former Saint Louis Mayor Francis Slay signed the executive order finally bringing local control back home to Saint Louis after more than 150 years.