The dust has settled after the election, and among the many votes I cast that were on the losing side was one against Proposition A. This proposition, among other things, would put the city of St. Louis in control of the police department. I voted against Prop A because every cop I know was against it. Chief among their concerns was putting their pension fund into the hands of city politicians.
Fair enough. I am not all that impressed with how city politicians conduct their affairs. Don’t misread my meaning. I love my city. I think Mayor Slay does an exceptional job with the hand he is dealt, and my alderman Fred Wessels is a sensible, dedicated public servant. Not so sure about the rest of the team, though I will acknowledge that any time I have had business to do with city hall, everyone has been friendly, responsive and professional.
It occurred to me the other day that there isn’t a Democrat in office that has not enjoyed the full-throated endorsement and support of the unions in this town, including the police union. There may be some jockeying among the minor players among the pols in Gateway City, but our election for city government is always the Democrat primary, never the general election. By the time all the people vote, the winner is known.
That means for decades the police union has been supporting candidates – Democrats – to run our fair city. Over those decades has there been a mayor, alderman or dog catcher that has won their office without the tacit approval of the police union? We all get to enjoy the leadership, wisdom and common sense governance of our city’s elected officials. All of these are in part filtered through the leadership of the police.
All of us in the city have been living under the leadership of men and women supported by the police. We all have our lives and livelihoods in their care. These men and women whom we must entrust with our school system, our property values and such – these men and women are deemed unfit to manage the police pension.
Perhaps they are not. Perhaps the police pensions will be looted and hollowed out by sticky-fingered aldermen who pledge it as collateral for the latest public/private partnership boondoggle. I really would hate to see that happen. Cops have an important job that can be suddenly dangerous. They deserve to have their life savings be secure.
Still, there is a definitive sense that they helped make the bed we live in, and now they ought to lie in it with the rest of St. Louis’ citizens. Perhaps with their pensions now on the block they will be more careful about who they support.