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)
As of Saturday, April 1, Billionaire Rex Sinquefield had dumped a total of $512,057.00 in cash and in-kind contributions into the campaigns for Prop A Body Cam Scam (Make St. Louis Safe PAC) and Prop B Election Date Scam (STL Votes PAC). The donations come via his Great St. Louis Inc, which is not the political action committee by the same name.
The money is going to canvassing workers and field organizing via BML Consulting and Fuse Advertising; and mailings and media via Fuse Advertising and Show Me Victories.
BML Consulting is owned by Blake Lawrence, Chief Counsel or recently former Chief Counsel to State Senator Jamilah Nasheed.
Gerald Hawthorne, Deputy Treasurer for Sinquefield’s Make St. Louis PAC and Treasurer of Sinquefield’s Great St. Louis PAC, is or was associated with Fuse Advertising.
Show Me Victories is the Kelley Group, also the contractors for Prop 1 Economic Development Sales Tax and Prop 2 Use Tax for Soccer Stadium.
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…”
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
Rex Sinquefield’s Great St. Louis pac last filed a report in January and had a very small amount on hand.
The money so far going to Make Saint Louis Safe, Sinquefield’s Proposition A campaign committee, and STL Votes, Sinquefield’s Proposition B campaign committee, is actually coming from Great St. Louis, Inc., not Great St. Louis pac.
Treasurer Marc Ellinger has served a legal counsel and spokesperson for Sinquefield ballot issues, including Sinquefield’s quest to get rid of the City’s earnings taxes.
Thursday, Great St. Louis, Inc., donated another $60,000 to Make Saint Louis Safe (total to date $110,000) and another $60,000 to STL Votes (total to date $110,000).
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.
Tuesday, March 21st, Great St. Louis dumped $50,000 into Make Saint Louis Safe, Rex Sinquefield’s PAC to fund his Proposition A Police Body Camera Scam.
Great St. Louis is entirely funded by Rex Sinquefield, by personal check and closing out the account of his Vote No on the E-Tax PAC.
Most of the Great St. Louis money in 2016 went to the losing 2016 Primary campaigns of Republican candidates– Catherine Hanaway’s campaign for Governor and Kurt Schaefer’s bid for Missouri Attorney General.
Larry Stendebach, the Deputy Treasurer of Great St. Louis, is also Treasurer for Make Saint Louis Safe, and the tech guru for Pelopidas, the PR/lobbying firm making a mint off of Sinquefield.
Stendebach is also Deputy Treasurer for STL Votes!, the PAC to fund Rex Sinquefield’s Prop B Election Date Scam. The proposal would move some but not all local Spring elections to Fall State elections, reducing turnout for school board elections and local ballot issues and with no cost savings.
Treasurer for STL Votes! is Martin Casas, who has run social media for Rex Sinquefield’s Better Together and most recently was employed by the Lyda Krewson for Mayor campaign.
Monday, Great St. Louis also dropped $50,000 on the STL Votes! campaign.
Stendebach was also a petitioner on the Bankrupt Saint Louis 2016 initiative petition to force yet another vote on the City’s earnings tax. The tax was reauthorized in Spring 2016 with 72% of the vote. Outrage over the Bankrupt St. Louis petition was swift and loud. The proposal was put aside.
Great St. Louis has a website in the making. If you see one for Make Saint Louis Safe or STL Votes! email firstname.lastname@example.org with a link.
Proposition A does not seek to “eliminate the elected position of recorder of deeds.” It seeks to eliminate the position of Recorder entirely. Without someone with the title “Recorder of Deeds” there can be no recorder services such as deed recording and marriage license issuance. Missouri law requires every county to have a Recorder.
The summary also states the ballot measure would move “some employees to the office of assessor” without saying that all employees would be retained as City employees. It implies that some Recorder employees would be laid off, a cost savings, which is not true. The Missouri Constitution specifically protects the City’s county employees during any consolidation of services.
And, again, there is neither a $1 Million cost savings from consolidating Assessor and Recorder offices, nor is there a Police Body Cam program that could operate on $1 Million alone.
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.