At seven o'clock on Tuesday, March 5th, the normally busy Parkside Grille stopped serving, and then got even more busy with a standing room only crowd gathered to hear from regional experts on the dangers of the proposed City-County Merger. Dr. Kenneth Remy who is running for ward 3 Councilman organized the meeting.
PHOTO: Standing room only at Remy's Stop the Merger Meeting
Not everyone had seats, but the crowd listened intently as three expert anti-merger activists spoke.
E. Terrence Jones, Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Policy Administration and Dean Emeritus of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-St. Louis spoke about how if approved the merger would remove the ability of citizens to form any future municipalities and would establish leaders without democratic representation. Mr. Jones also had served on Wildwood's ten year Charter review committee.
Ms. Jennifer Bird, Gravois Township Committeewoman, Founder and Executive Director for Common Sense St. Louis has been fighting the merger for eight years. Ms. Bird spoke with the experience of a veteran activist and organizer who warned that if the merger is not stopped, "schools would be next." She warned that those who oppose the merger will face stiff resistance and even personal affronts by a well financed Better Together organization. You can visit her organizations site at StopMerger.org. The crowd applauded loudly when she said, "we are not better together, we are smarter apart."
Sgt. Gary Wiegart, a 35 year policeman for St. Louis City, and six year President of the St. Louis Police Officers Association spoke at length about his experience with Rex Sinquefield, who is a major funder of Better Together, and who helped finance a previous attempt to eliminate local control of St. Louis City police. Sgt. Wiegart said that removing local control was a financial and logistical disaster. He also elaborated upon some of the more troubling technical sections of the proposal, which threatens to transfer debt from the City to the County.
Petitions to allow a City County vote as opposed to a statewide vote were circulated, with enthusiastic attendees taking some home to circulate themselves.
PHOTO: Buttons, Petitions and Anti-Merger Signs Abounded
Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin, spoke about the new ad-hoc committee that he proposed and was approved unanimously by the City Council. The "Wildwood Preservation Committee" will identify key assets such as watersheds, parks, and zoning ordinances critical for Wildwood in order to put in place legally binding restrictions to preserve them in case the merger is successful. He was sure to make clear that priority one is to defeat the merger, but it is necessary to have a backup, "poison pill" plan to preserve Wildwood assets if Better Together succeeds.
Also speaking was Ward 3 Councilman Kevin Dillard, who also pledged his opposition to the merger.
Dr. Remy, who is running for the Ward 3 Wildwood City Council, organized the meeting and spoke about the need for residents, councilmembers and the Mayor to come together to fight and defeat the proposed merger. He also emphasized the necessity of having a cooperative, civil, and fully functioning council that knows how to work together with themselves and the Mayor in order to defeat the "hostile takeover".
At least 90 people attended the blowout event.