Skepticism Reigns at Better Together’s Second Town Hall

By on March 15, 2019

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  Better Together faced a mostly skeptical crowd Thursday at the group’s second town hall meeting since publicly announcing a broad plan to consolidate the governments of St. Louis, St. Louis County and all 88 county municipalities.

Some of the more than 100 people at the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenter’s Regional Council hall in south St. Louis made clear that they were opposed to the plan, which was criticized in large part for a lack of financial details, its failure to address education and its requirement of a statewide vote.

Others expressed concern about the plan to designate County Executive Steve Stenger become the new metro city’s unelected first mayor.

More than a dozen people lined up to question Better Together Deputy Director Marius Johnson-Malone on the plan’s details, with some attendees heckling Malone as he responded.

The crowd applauded when Matthew Tharp, of St. Louis County, accused Better Together of trying to circumvent locals by forcing a statewide vote.

“This is something this task force is pushing down the people’s throat because if it wasn’t you would’ve allowed the city and county to go first, and then you would’ve taken it to the state,” Tharp said. “You have a billionaire that is trying to buy his way and force his opinion,” he said referring to wealthy financier Rex Sinquefield, a major donor to Better Together.

Many attendees said they were open to the idea of consolidating the St. Louis region but could not support Better Together’s plan without more details.

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