The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board was against the Police Body Cam Scam before it was for it.
“Singling out Carpenter, on the dubious pretext that it would permit the city to afford body cameras, is local politics at its worst,” wrote the Editorial Board in City’s longshot ‘body camera initiative’ smells like revenge.
That was during the signature gathering phase of the initiative petition to eliminate the Recorder of Deeds position and transfer Recorder duties to the Assessor (without naming the Assessor as Recorder and complying with the Missouri Constitution and statutes).
That was August 2016. But March 26th, the Editorial Board decided to join Billionaire Rex Sinquefield and State Senator Jamilah Nasheed in their “local politics at its worst” and endorsed Proposition A with the unflattering note, “There is no data supporting this savings estimate, which seems inflated…”
The Labor Tribune called the ballot issue “Fiscal Insanity” and noted opposition from various labor organizations.
The St. Louis American labeled the proposal “a contrivance” and noted, “St. Louis will still need employees to handle the land deeds, marriage licenses, birth certificates and all the other recorder’s functions that aren’t going away. With all the costs inherent in the recorder’s office, there’s no way the savings could make even a dent in the total cost for body cameras.”
The list of Proposition A Supporters:
Billionaire Rex Sinquefield
State Senator Jamilah Nasheed
Outgoing Mayor Francis Slay
Former Recorder of Deeds, Former 15th Ward Alderwoman Jennifer Florida
Proponents of Rex Sinquefield’s Proposition A cannot seem to settle on where is it that they are getting $1 Million from the Recorder of Deed’s Office for the imaginary $1 Million Police Body Cam program.
Earlier this week, Senator Jamilah Nasheed said the money would come from modernizing computers, apparently not understanding that the technology at the Recorder’s is not paid for by General Revenue.
Today on St. Louis On The Air, Senator Nasheed claimed body cameras could be funded with the Recorder of Deeds’s Preservation Fund. The account is separate from General Revenue and funded by a special fee dedicated under Section 59.319.1 RSMo to preservation-related activities of the Recorder’s Office.
While the City Recorder is best known for recording deeds, issuing marriage licenses, and providing Birth and Death Certificate copies, the Office is charged with conservation, preservation, and access for many more records, an extensive public records collection.
It appears that the Senator takes the constitutional provision giving City voters the right to “amend or revise its present charter to provide for the number, kinds, manner of selection, terms of office and salaries of its county officers” to mean that the City has a right to ignore all other constitutional provisions and statutes, which is does not.
In this Fox2 You Paid for It interview, State Senator Jamilah Nasheed says that there is $1 Million in cost savings to be had by modernizing the computers at the Recorder of Deeds Office, or combining computers with another office, or something like that. The plan is not specific. It just has something to do with computers equaling a million dollars for police body cameras.
The problem with Nasheed’s argument is that the computer-related technology used in the Recorder of Deed’s Office is not paid for by City General Revenue. The Recorder’s database is paid for by a special fee on document recording and fund created by Section 59.800 RSMo. The fund must be spent on technology for the Recorder’s office. The funds cannot be diverted for other purposes. The funds cannot be moved to General Revenue.
The Recorder’s Technology Fund is why every Missouri Recorder has its own database separate from County Collector, Assessor, etc. Data may be shared with other agencies and systems, but there remains a database specific to recording of deeds and issuance of marriage licenses.
Consolidating databases would actually cost the City’s General Revenue Fund millions of dollars to convert data and adapt the City’s system to accommodate all the Recorder’s functions and services.
The Recorder provides secure electronic deed recording. It’ll cost a bundle for the City to reinvent that wheel.
The Recorder’s database currently has 13.6 Million scanned images ranging from 19th Century for profit and nonprofit incorporations and marriage licenses to tax liens and mortgages recorded yesterday. There are millions more records waiting to be scanned and indexed. $2.5 Million was the last bid estimate for an outside contractor to aide in scanning land record books in the basement.
When the City’s website/network goes down, the public can still research deeds at St. Louis City Recorder. Sometimes bigger is not better.
Easy enough to blame the money. Without Rex Sinquefield’s money, there would be no ballot issue. But the people who lent their names as the Committee of Petitioners share blame as well.
Hon. Jamilah Nasheed: 5th District Missouri Senator
Blake Lawrence: Chief Counsel to Senator Nasheed
Martin Casas: Krewson for Mayor; Rex Sinquefield’s Better Together; STL SwapMeet
Stephanie Lewis: Spokesperson for Rex Sinquefield’s NoETax campaign
Jennifer Florida: former Recorder of Deeds, former 15th Ward Alderwoman