Gov. Jay Nixon says he will soon name the members of a commission to address the complex problems that caused pent-up rage to erupt in August when a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., fatally shot an unarmed black teenager.
The Missouri governor’s call for a commission weeks after mayhem first gripped St. Louis County may seem like too little, too late. But more than 300 persons have applied. Given the right makeup and the proper authority, a panel could seize the opportunity to do substantive work.
Its assignment will be to study the social and economic disparities brought to light by the unrest, to solicit experts for potential remedies, and to make recommendations for turning the St. Louis region into “a stronger, fairer place for everyone to live,” as Nixon put it during a speech.
The commission will delve into issues such as poor police training, segregated housing patterns, broken school districts and overly aggressive traffic enforcement by local police departments, whose cities depend on the revenue to pay their bills.
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The Kansas City region should be grateful that it’s not enduring the throes experienced in the St. Louis area. But leaders would be wise to watch what is going on there and to heed the work that comes out of Nixon’s commission.
Racial segregation and disparities exist in Kansas City, too, as do troubled school districts and mistrust between police and citizens. It’s clear that a unified regional effort in the St. Louis area is called for to address problems there.
Why not take steps to make the Kansas City region stronger and fairer without first becoming the epicenter of a fury?