Paul McKee’s $398,000,000 $390,000,000 TIF passed unanimously at the hearing Wednesday. Let me pause for a moment so you can pretend to be surprised.
I’m still trying to collect my thoughts on the hearing, and on the numerous egregious attempts made that evening to foil residents’ attempts to present their opinions to a TIF Commission that had long since made up its mind. I don’t think that residents even had a chance to change the minds, let alone the votes of the Commissioners. So what they were fighting for, what they were so hell bent on stopping us from doing, was simply the dignity of getting to say one’s tiny 2-minute piece. I felt like shit that I was denied the opportunity to give oral testimony (Those sign up sheets were NOT out there until the specified 7pm, I don’t care what they claim. A friend said she saw them yanked at 6:20, and this is in light of many of us being in line outside a long time after that.)…. But I felt even worse for those who were not able bodied enough to withstand the hours of bullshit we were all put through at City Hall. And for what? Not even for the opportunity to be heard and considered, just for the simple dignity of having the formality of getting to speak. Hell, for the simple dignity of having the relevant laws and procedures followed. What would be so terrifying about that, with the decks stacked so completely against any possibility of a decision in our favor? We know that you will get what you want, and you know it, so why such fervor to dehumanize hundreds of people in the process?
Tom Duda, as always, has excellent analysis: Something Doesn’t Add Up: Why $400 Million for McKee Does Not Equal A Job For Me.
In the mean time, those of you who actually receive city services should start planning for which ones you would like to give up for McKee’s giant TIF. I already do not receive trash service from the city* and my landlady had to install our sidewalk herself and let’s not even talk about the time the 911 operator told me that the street I live on doesn’t exist in the City of St. Louis…. sooo… uhhh…. I guess those of you who don’t live in the fifth ward should pick some city services you get, and we’ll try to think of any we even have and get back to you.
As for working for the city, well…. Word around town suggests that firefighter and police furloughs are likely. We are bleeding schools, with the threats of more closures ever present. I’ve also heard there were big lay-offs in the license collector’s office. And this was pre-TIF. With this massive TIF passed, well…. We’re well on our way to this.
McKee’s financial woes (last paragraph here for more detail) meant no one would lend to him unless he got this TIF, but now we have rescued him. Our public money for his private gain, since he spread himself much too thin rather than sticking to a number of properties he could manage with the money he had. This project seemed deliberately designed for a bailout from the get-go. Our city government, and in turn all of us as residents and taxpayers, are now the ones singing “Brother, can you spare a dime?”
* My block has not received trash removal from the City of St. Louis the entire time I have lived here and yes, it does suck. No dumpster, no rollaways, no nothing.