St. Louis Doesn’t Have to Give Up Its Airport to Tap Its Potential

By on February 4, 2018

From St. Louis Magazine:  The city of St. Louis has finally figured out how to create a unified approach to transportation policy: It has put forth an airport privatization concept that looks and feels like a railroad job.

Here is the press release from the mayor’s office announcing the plan:

“At the insistence of our chief benefactor and king, Rex Sinquefield, who doesn’t like government, we have decided to sell off our airport to the highest bidder,” a mayoral spokesman said. “We have contracted with one of King Rex’s not-for-profits to study whether or not to proceed with privatization, with the one stipulation that ‘not’ is not an option. We do believe that loyalty is a virtue and will ensure that our political friends and consultants are properly compensated for their service to us in this matter. As for the Board of Aldermen, our plan is for King Rex to purchase its loyalty at a later date.

“The current administration would like to observe that this decision was made largely in secret by the previous mayor on his way out the door—at the behest of King Rex—and we really had no choice but to go forward. We are at least being more transparent than the last guy. Any news outlet portraying our current mayor as a deer in headlights will have its media credentials revoked. We are excited to move forward with this transformational project.”

(I concede that the above statement has been slightly altered from the mayor’s actual public pronouncements—in the interest of bringing them closer to conformity with the truth.)

To be fair, the city officials pursuing airport privatization envision an enormous pot of gold at the end of their rainbow, with some sources offering estimates of as much as $3 billion coming the city’s way for leasing out its operation. Given St. Louis’ undeniable financial woes, that has to be tempting, even if it does have the feel of a pre-bankruptcy disposition of assets.

Those officials can’t be blamed for at least considering participation in the FAA airport privatization pilot program unveiled in 2017. And it can rightly be argued that the application process for the program is extremely complex and time-consuming, which is why Sinquefield’s minions, naturally, slithered into a governmental process that ironically serves his larger purpose of downsizing government.

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