Kansas City’s long-running love-hate affair with St. Louis is expected to take a dramatic turn this fall.
Not on the baseball diamond. The Cardinals may or may not make it to the World Series again, but the Royals — well, let’s just hope everyone enjoyed Tuesday’s All-Star Game.
No, the drama will play out at the ballot box, where Kansas City may end up deciding whether St. Louis gets local control of its police department.
The Missouri secretary of state’s office was still counting petition signatures early this week, but it appears likely the state’s voters will decide in November whether police control can return to the city of St. Louis, where it has not resided for more than a century. St. Louis businessman and 1-percenter Rex Sinquefield helped fund the push to put the measure on the ballot and will likely fork over another million or so bucks to pass it this fall.
Sinquefield’s allies already have started talking about their election strategy. The thinking: Local control will pass overwhelmingly in St. Louis — a nonbinding vote on the issue a couple of years ago wasn’t even close. But it’s likely to struggle in suburban St. Louis and rural areas, largely because of a heavy Republican turnout and general distrust of St. Louis politicians.
That leaves Kansas City as the tie-breaker. And where Kansas City’s votes will go is anyone’s guess.
Some analysts believe Kansas City voters will oppose local control in St. Louis, since a victory for them would leave us as the only major city in the nation without direct supervision of the police. That’s not a distinction any city would presumably want on its resume.
At the same time, if local control in St. Louisloses
, any chance of getting local control in Kansas City would likely vanish for decades. So some think Kansas City voters will support local control in St. Louis just to keep the possibility alive here.
Alas, it’s even more complicated because the politics of the Kansas City Police Department itself are pretty muddled right now. Most of the time the police support Kansas City’s governor-appointed police board, but there appears to be deep rank-and-file dissatisfaction with its recent decisions, increasing the desire for local control. And the city’s violent crime problem may prompt residents to rethink department governance.
At the same time, Kansas City hasn’t pressedat all
for local control, unlike St. Louis, which has fought for it for years.
So the fate of police control for St. Louisans may hinge on the conflicted and unpredictable views of Kansas Citians.
And let’s be clear: We can be bought. A couple of starting pitchers would probably do it.