I haven’t blogged much about this because it seemed uninteresting to the national events, but there’s a brouhaha over relocating a federal agency in my town. Looking at it now, it’s a bit of a microcosm for what’s going on at a national level, namely why everyone hates politicans and Donald Trump is capitalizing on that.
Let’s take a look. The TL;DR of the above linked article is: the “National Geospatial Intelligence Agency” is slated to move, competition comes down apparently to either the old Pruitt-Igoe public housing site in crime ridden North St. Louis or a literal cornfield next to Scott Air Force base.
By way of backstory, there were originally 5 possible locations. Technically in addition to the 2 above 2 more are actually still in the running: a closed Chrysler plant off I-44 and a closed industrial park near I-255. They contain none of the downsides of either of the top two sites as well as multiple upsides. (The industrial park has it’s own dedicated power subsystem for example already on complex.)
But politics inevitably beats practicality and so here we are. So let’s take a look at the politics on my side of the river. To that we’ll turn to the blog of St. Louis City Police Chief Sam “take me to the nearest news camera” Dotson. He writes about the project:
About the same time NGA was settling here, another development was in the planning stages and bound for St. Louis: the Pruitt-Igoe housing project. By sharp contrast, this became a universal synonym for failed government and left St. Louis with one of post-industrial society’s saddest stories.
But as it too rarely does, history now offers us a chance to make things right, by tying these two stories together into one, with an unmistakably happy ending.
First off, I want to thank blog master CBD for making this blog look far more professional than the official blog of a major cities police chief. Aside for current century theme, we have our own domain name. Dotson has…blogger defaults.
Now to the main point, how typically technocrat liberal that our police chief assumes the best way to fix a government created problem is MOAR GOVERMENT INVOLVEMENT. Let’s read on shall we:
One of the most tragic consequences of the Pruitt-Igoe policy failure is the damage it did to our community. By concentrating poverty, the project intensified crime. By intensifying crime, it spread fear. By spreading fear, it discouraged development. And by discouraging development, it aggravated the problem of poverty, resulting in a vicious cycle that took decades to break.
Reading this it almost seems like Dotson thinks that poverty is directly and solely causal to crime. Why does Dotson hate poor people like that? It also shows how historically ignorant of the PI development he is. I’ve read more about PI than I’d care to admit. Most of the writing is from a progressive perspective, but even then, themes emerge that are telling. Consider the Wikipedia entry which notes the project was over budget, due in part to union graft, leading to critical cuts. Maintenance suffered almost immediately, which lead to low pride of ownership and community (as well as crime.) As more people despaired inside the government created hell hole, it fell into further disrepair. Anyone with means to escape it did, leaving a high proportion of riffraff behind, increasing crime and continuing the downward spiral until they demolished PI.
Now a failed police chief (with over a murder every other day last year) working for a failed mayor, look to take a part of their negative crime stats quite literally off the map. (Pruitt-Igoe may be long demolished, but it’s impact is not.) Replace a crime area with a psudeo-military base and maybe Chief Dotson will be able to reduce murder stats to one every 3 days.
Now at the outset I mentioned I would tie this into the rise of the anti-politician (Trump). You may be wondering how this local kerfuffle ties in beyond that broader “fix government fuck ups with more government.” Behind the scenes you have tons of the political bullshit that makes the average person ill. Go back to the Post-Dispatch Article I linked at the start, it notes 40% of the property is owned by developer “Paul McKee.” The city is going to purchase land he originally bought from them forgetting to pay his taxes for a while there. Needless to say I find him a bit shady. Even his Wikipedia page notes he plays politics as a way to make money. I highly doubt he won’t get his palm greased in this deal.
Additionally you have senate collector of favors Roy Blunt backing the North side project, to what benefit (besides jobs staying in MO, which they would have with 3 of the 4 sites) I have no idea. But I’m sure he’ll get a favor or two to cash in.
And then in all weirdness, the St. Louis County Executive backed the city site against the interests of his own county where the other 2 sites were! (By way of background for those not in the know, St. Louis is weird in that the city and county are separate entities.) I would note that not only does backing the city locale mean less development in the county around a potential site, it also means that since the city has a 1% earnings tax on anyone working there, county residents have 1% less to spend by keeping NGA in the city.
What is county executive Stenger getting for acting against his county’s interests? Theories vary. I’ve heard that this was a form of penance for not supporting a new NFL stadium with county dollars. (Which by the way was just doing what the voters said: no money for Koneke.) Other theories suggest this is to generate good will for a city/county merger proposal. (Another things the county voters don’t want. Stenger looks a lot like our Gov. Kasich constantly giving us what we say we don’t want.)
Politicians are busy horse trading favors to set up a bad choice for their own personal benefit. And yet the GOP and media are confused as to why Trump keeps hanging on. DC is just the head of the proverbial fish and it’s rotten everywhere now. (And remember as I say that I’m #neverTrump)
NGIA used to work out of a eyesore of a building in near-southeast DC, and was once part of the Navy Yard.
They moved out during the time I worked near there 2010-2012.
It’s not mentioned in these articles, but they currently work out of (and I shit you not) a complex where the Civil War era MO arsenal was.
In the front of their complex is Gen. Lyon’s house a national historic site. He marched on the arsenal to stop confederate aligned rebels from taking it and gaining enough weapons to force a MO secession.