Saturday, January 06, 2007

Case In Point By Joe Koester, Councilman Ward 9

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”
Johann von Goethe

I quietly watched more than an hour of ceremony surrounding the life and death of President Ford besides all of the radio reports and news blurbs. He was such a likeable figure; I guess those who have been in those high positions often are likeable if they can survive life in politics and come away with good humor. Compared to the scorched earth politics of today, the old guard seemed so much more civil than what we see nowadays. When an idea was good for the country, both sides were not afraid to cooperate for common good. President Ford to me represented one of the last main stream Republicans who was not a neo-con and didn’t pretend that God was directing him – and then spew trash against his political opponents.

Now and then I get a letter from a cowardly neo-con who spouts off whenever I say anything bad about Republicans but never has the confidence to put his name on his letters. To me it fits in line with the likes of Paul Wolfowitz and Dick Cheney who bravely lead us into war but declined to serve when they were called in the draft. Ford wasn’t like these guys; it was said he liked to argue and hear good argumentation among his cabinet. He didn’t surround himself with yes men.

When all men think alike, no one thinks very much.
Walter Lippmann

Ford fought in World War II and knew what war was. Perhaps, that is why he gave an interview to be released after his death criticizing this administration for leading us into a war without a battle plan.

The acrimony has transferred down to local government too – from the state house to city hall. That said, since the recall ended, I have seen attempts by council on all sides to cooperate more. Things aren’t perfect, nor should they be. When all men think alike…
One divergence from this cooperative spirit that baffles me is the resistance to seek to have special interest legislation that only applies to our city reversed. The Missouri Supreme Court unanimously ruled that special interest legislation based upon population is illegal. St. Charles City currently has at least two such laws that hinder our rights to self-determination. Our GOP representation has placed more faith in Big Brother than in the rights of local government. The law itself is not the crux of the problem; the fact that the laws are only applicable to our town is the thing that is so wrong.

Now, I’m baffled because any mayor or council would want self-determination in local matters such as to whom you must give sewer service and how you may spend money relative to surrounding cities and towns. Oddly, this was not the case during out last meeting in December. John Gieseke and I bought forward a resolution to seek to overturn illegal laws aimed solely at our town. The mayor vetoed this. More confusing than this was the fact that several of my fellow council members upheld her veto voting to prevent us from moving forward and having illegal laws removed off the books. The given reason? They didn’t want to spend the money necessary to defend our city because they believe our local state lawmakers will work with us to remove these laws off the books willingly. This same illegal law cost the City of St. Charles hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost tax revenue by forcing us to give away sewer service to the Saint Andrews development without requiring them to annex into our corporate limits. So, while city residents will begin paying large sums of tax dollars to upgrade the sewer treatment plants, our county customers will not contribute by way of real estate taxes to the plants whose services they receive.

I do want to thank Larry Muench for voting for this resolution. If in fact our lawmakers remove these illegal laws from the books, then there will be no need to continue our lawsuit; however, we should not simply wait for their charity but rather begin the process that will guarantee St. Charles citizens the same rights as other communities throughout the entire state.
If the resolution is vetoed, it is my intent to place it on the next agenda and the next until April. I hope that the mayor will allow our resolution to stand. If indeed the matter is worked out, the entire matter will be moot. I simply want to approach the bargaining table with all the tools at our disposal with the rights of St. Charles at stake. This resolution has nothing to do with our state lawmakers per se; it is simply a case of, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

If you get the time, call or write Councilman Kneemiller, Reese, Weller, and Hoepfner and tell them you simply want equal treatment under the law. Council information is available at our city website: