Thank You St. Louis City Voters for defeating Proposition A Body Cam Scam
51.6% to 48.4%
(60% needed to pass a Charter Amendment)
Prop A seeks to abolish the Office of Recorder of Deeds and immediately make the elected Recorder of Deeds an employee under the mayoral appointed Assessor for the remainder of her term of office. Prop A’s Initiative Petition/Ordinance states…
The Missouri Constitution specifically requires an elected official to serve out the term, as in carry out the duties, and says changes cannot take place until the end of that term.
Oddly enough, that Article VI, Section 32(b) is the section that State Senator Jamilah Nasheed often cites as legal basis to abolish the office.
Furthermore, under Missouri Statute, you cannot provide Recorder of Deeds services without an elected or appointed official named Recorder of Deeds. Every county must have a Recorder of Deeds.
The Prop A Initiative Petition/Ordinance fails to name the Assessor as Recorder. It states..
This is video by the Missouri Association of Recorders explains what Recorders do and types of records maintained. The St. Louis City Recorder has older records than most counties and more services and types of records than any other county in Missouri.
The basic recording and marriage license services are the same in all 115 Missouri counties.
County Recorders duties and services are regulated by over 50 chapters of Revised Statutes of Missouri. Major chapters affecting Recorders include…
Because the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds is also Vital Records Registrar, the office must also comply with Chapter 193 RSMo and Missouri Code of State Regulations Title 19, Chapter 10.
The St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds is also governed by City Charter and City Code. Affecting customers the most is the Title 15.152 Deeds Law, which require both grantor and grantee notarized signatures on title transfer deeds. St. Louis City is the only county in Missouri with this requirement. The purpose is to prevent problem properties from being deeded into the names of persons without their consent.
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…”
We are required by law to have a Recorder of Deeds. Getting rid of the office doesn’t get rid of the responsibility. Plus, with a looming budget shortfall, there’s absolutely no guarantee that the money saved will be appropriated to public safety.
— Tishaura Jones, St. Louis City Treasurer
Proposition A is a misleading attempt to combine the Recorder of Deeds office with the Assessor’s office under the false pretense of funding a police body camera program. The minimal amount of projected savings of Prop A far exceed the cost of a police body camera program and would not make our city safer. Additionally, Prop A will make it harder for citizens to secure important legal documents that are currently overseen by the Recorder of Deeds office.
Proposition B aims to move the current Primary Municipal Election from March to August and the General Municipal Election from April to November. This would result in local issues being pushed to the bottom of the ballot.
Both Props A & B are backdoor attempts by Rex Sinquefield to push his agenda on our city and are a step towards defunding important city services. Please join us on April 4 at your local polling place to vote NO on Propositions A & B.
— Gregory F.X. Daly, St. Louis City Collector of Revenue
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
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.
There is a $2.2-$1.4 Million per year Body Cam Plan. There is no $1 Million Police Body Cam program on the table.
So, for starters, proponents are not even suggesting that this ballot issue will fully fund or even fund half of a Body Cam Program.
As for the alleged $1 Million cost savings from eliminating the Recorder of Deeds Office (which cannot be done under Missouri law) and moving Recorder services to Assessor without giving Assessor the title of Recorder (which cannot be done under Missouri law), even if this petition had been written correctly, there is no $1 Million cost savings.
The Recorder’s Budget is $2.8 Million. $2.5 Million of the budget is personnel. All staff of the Recorder would be retained as City employees under any consolidation of services affecting the office. It’s a constitutional protection.
The remaining $300,000 of the Recorder’s budget is copiers, paper goods (a primary function of Recorder is producing certified copies of deeds, marriage licenses, and other records in its care, which requires copiers and paper), and the $70,000 a year contract with State of Missouri to provide Birth and Death Certificate copies (which brings in $900,000 annual to City General Revenue).
Even in the imaginary world of Proposition A, there is only an imaginary $300,000 a year cost savings from eliminating an office you cannot eliminate and failing to to carry out statutory duties of recording deeds and issuing marriage licenses.
Question: Does State Health Department, or local Health Departments, in Missouri have any statutory jurisdiction to accept Applications for Marriage Licenses, issue Marriage Licenses, or issue certified copies of Marriage Licenses?
Answer: No. The State Health Department may verify that a marriage ceremony was recorded in a county. That’s it. If you want to apply for a Marriage License or get a certified copy of your Marriage License- the legal document, you go to the Recorder of Deeds.
Question: Does Missouri Revised Statutes give County Collectors of Revenue the authority to engage in recording of land deeds and issuance of certified copies of land deeds?
Answer: No. Every Missouri County must have a Recorder of Deeds to perform Recorder services. Very small counties, however, are authorized to have a Circuit Clerk-Recorder office. But, having a separate, independent Recorder of Deeds is deemed so important in Missouri that, some years back, a special Statutory County Recorder’s Fund was created, a fee on recording transactions across Missouri, to assist small counties in separation of their Recorder and County Clerk functions.
Question: Would combining the St. Louis City Recorder of Deeds Office/duties with another office result in cost savings adequate to fund even a 10th of a police body camera program?
Answer: No. The only cost savings would be the Recorder’s salary. It’s just a Body Cam Scam funded by Billionaire Rex Sinquefield.