Prop P Passes, Police and Firefighters Get Raise

5a0249f647bd7.imageMCNS Staff

St. Louis city voters have given police and firefighters a raise.

Needing a simple majority to pass, Proposition P won easily last Tuesday with roughly 60 percent of the vote.

With the passage of the measure, sales taxes in most areas of the city will climb from 9.2 to 9.7 percent on April 1. The increase is projected to bring in about $20 million annually, most of which will be spent to hire more police officers and increase their salaries. Firefighters will also get a raise.

Mayor Lyda Krewson says she wants to use the $4 million from a corresponding business use tax increase on crime prevention programs.

“I recognize that we can’t arrest our way to a safer city, and I’m thrilled that voters agree,” Krewson said. “Passing Prop P means we can make significant investments on the prevention side, with funding for after-school and summer job programs, recreation, social and mental health services and also demolishing vacant buildings.”

Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner thanked voters for the additional $1 million of the new revenue her office will receive.

Opponents of the proposition were looking to use recent protests of the non-indictment of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley to build momentum against the measure. They raised the issues of the measure in protests, phone banks and get-out-the vote initiatives.

While they weren’t able to defeat the measure, they continue to argue the tax will unfairly affect the city’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. They have also called for reforms to policing in the city and suggest that the passage of the proposition amounts to giving police a raise for bad behavior and racist practices.

Moving Forward from Proposition P

By S. Christopher Emerson

Prop P passed in St. Louis city last Tuesday with nearly 60% of the vote, much to the chagrin of many progressives in St. Louis communities working for change. The measure passed in all North Side wards, with the closest margin, by far, occurring in the 18th ward where Terry Kennedy is alderman.  I voted “No,” and am disappointed in the outcome. I’m also curious.

Approved by voters, the measure will raise an estimated $19.5 million annually from the sales tax and $3.9 million from a corresponding increase in the use tax. Below is the breakdown of the distribution of the funds according to KMOV:

 

*Approximately $12.8 million (2/3 of revenue raised) would go to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to raise starting pay from $42,000 to $52,000, to compete with St. Louis County and other municipalities and to hire an additional 100 officers.

 

*Approximately $5.4 million allocated to the St. Louis Fire Department to retain and attract top quality firefighters

 

*Approximately $1.5 million allocated to the Circuit Attorney’s Office

 

*An additional $3.9 million from a corresponding half-cent increase in the city’s business use tax would fund after-school programs and summer jobs, recreation, social work, and mental health programs

 

-Approximately $975,000 for after-school programs and summer jobs

 

-Approximately $975,000 for social work and mental health

 

-Approximately $975,000 for recreation programming

 

-Approximately $675,000 for building demolition

 

Many progressives feel like the people, definitely those earning lower wages, will shoulder the burden of this initiative. Add to it the notion that these people are also the ones who are most negatively affected by racist police practices, and the fact that community programs were tossed virtual peanuts from the tax bump. There’s a (perceived) recipe for another uprising.

But there wasn’t.

Since the work of building progressive power in our communities that has featured a strong anti-Proposition P message has been highly visible as of late, why does it seem that the message is not connecting with voters?

I’m not here to assume that half of the Black folks on the North Side are sell outs or intend on further oppressing us, but if we’re interested in raising our communities, we must know what was so attractive about this proposition that caused them to vote for it.

Many of the residents we’ve spoken to state that of the issues in our communities, public safety is of major importance. When they think of reduction in crime, they think “more cops.” We may ask “Why?” when we consider the mounds of data that suggest that adding cops doesn’t curb crime, but our people’s experience is often that “police presence” equals “Ray Ray is gon’ take his shady bizness on ‘round the corner.”

Our people aren’t lost on the fact that oppression creates crime on a broad, macroscale. But down here on the ground, our people feel like more cops keep more teddy bears from being tied to trees.

So how can we work with our communities in ensuring that our experiences are reflected in progressive policy? We engage.

First of all, we LISTEN to our people and COMMIT to working for us. What are our collective concerns? Where can we meet? How can we represent the concerns of the people from the North Side elder property owner to the Midtown socialite? How can we craft a strategy that addresses a myriad of Black concerns and isolates no one? These are the questions we should ask while we get game from our friends, cousins, neighbors, local shop owners, and fellow community members.

Other means of engagements include voter rights and education drives. These inform our people of the importance of voicing our collective concerns, and empower us with information about how to vote, and the issues of each election. Sample ballots for upcoming elections give our people clear-cut advice on how to vote, from trusted sources.

And not only are we engaging folks in the streets, but we also engage each other; simply put, we ORGANIZE. We build strategies. We fit the right people in the right spots to accomplish objectives. We make sure we adhere to our activist commitments. We must see ourselves, truly, as members of the community we are politicizing.

NAACP Petitions Against National Anthem

Sports protests during the national anthem have helped illuminate racism in the song.

Sports protests during the national anthem have helped illuminate racism in the song.

By Malcolm X Speaks

The California chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) petitioned the California State Legislature to change the US national anthem because “The Star-Spangled Banner” is racist.

The NAACP chapter circulated two petitions in the California State Legislature to address the national anthem. The first petition denounces the anthem itself as “one of the most racist, pro-slavery, anti-black songs in the American lexicon.” The second petition honors and supports former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick for launching a protest movement against police brutality among professional athletes by kneeling when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played before games.

The chapter sent copies of the petition to legislative offices in California and will work to garner support from state lawmakers when they return to the Capitol in January, according to the Sacramento Bee.

The issue at hand is a line in the third verse, which reads: “no refuge could save the hireling and slave/ from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.”

“This song is wrong; it should have never been there, and just we didn’t have it until 1931, it won’t kill us if it goes away,” California NAACP President Alice Huffman told CBS Sacramento. “It’s racist, it doesn’t represent our community, it’s anti-black people.”

Francis Scott Key, the writer of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” was an owner of enslaved Africans and a fierce opponent of abolition.

Lyles is Charlotte’s First Black Woman Mayor

By Free Radical

Vi Lyles and her granddaughter.

Vi Lyles and her granddaughter.

Former city administrator Vi Lyles made history last Tuesday by becoming Charlotte’s first Black woman mayor.

Lyles, who previously served as Charlotte’s former budget director and assistant city manager, started out as a longshot. She first had to defeat incumbent Jennifer Roberts in the Democratic primary before defeating the strongly funded council member Kenny Smith to become mayor of North Carolina’s largest city.

Lyles ran on a campaign that focused on the hiring of low-income residents backed by public dollars and more affordable housing in the city. She was also critical of the way the former mayor Jennifer Roberts and Charlotte law enforcement handled the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott, which sparked fiery uprisings in the city.

Yet Lyles’s triumph was not the only historic electoral victory for Blacks last week. Keisha Lance Bottom, a Black woman, emerged from a crowded mayoral field, along with Mary Norwood, to force a runoff in Atlanta. If Bottoms wins the runoff on December 5, she will be the city’s second Black woman mayor since Shirley Franklin who completed two terms in 2010.

There were also other unlikely wins such as Melvin Carter who became the first Black mayor of St. Paul, Minnesota and Wilmot Collins who won the mayoral race in Helena, Montana.

Though Virginia’s new senator Ralph Northam received much of the media’s attention, Justin Fairfax, who is Black, won his lieutenant governor’s race to win a rare statewide victory for African-Americans in the South.

Similarly, though Danica Roem grabbed multiple headlines as Virginia’s first openly transgender state legislator, Andrea Jenkins became one of the first Black transgender women elected to office by becoming a city council member in Minneapolis. She has been preceded by Althea Garrison who served as a Massachusetts state legislator in the 1990s.

Mizzou Cuts Costs Again

By Free Radical

Protests in 2015 at Mizzou continue to cause reforms at the college.

Protests in 2015 at Mizzou continue to cause reforms at the college.

In response to a dramatic dip in enrollment, the University of Missouri-Columbia campus has reduced its room and board costs.

The plan was announced last week by Gerry Ward, the school’s chief operating officer. In a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ward expressed “This year is an investment year to gain back trust in that this university is the University for Missouri.”

One-third of Mizzou’s housing options will drop from about 2.2 to 5%. Dining plans are set to decline by at least $300.

Mizzou was embroiled in controversy as a series of racist incidents in 2015 sparked intense student demonstrations which caused the ouster of system president Tom Wolfe. This resulted in a precipitous 6.2% decline in student enrollment at the campus. The fallout and enrollment reductions from all university campuses is said to be about $60 million in revenue cuts and a loss in 474 jobs according to the kansascitystar.com.

Ward stated that these cuts allowed Mizzou to make the aforementioned changes to its room and board costs. Mizzou had also previously said in August that it would provide full tuition and fees for Missouri residents who are eligible for Pell grants starting in Fall 2018.

The school has also hired Kevin McDonald, its vice Chancellor of Diversity and developed a $1 million faculty diversity initiative.

Save