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A L E E E N T E R P R I S E S N E W S P A P E R • F O U N D E D B Y J O S E P H P U L I T Z E R D E C . M1 21, •1 8WeDneSDAy 78 A10 • ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH • 05.01.2019




Cleaning house Under new management, St. Louis County’s door is open to far-reaching reforms.


teve Stenger might be gone from St. Louis County government, but his ample thumbprint of corrupt practices has yet to be erased. The first job of newly appointed County Executive Sam Page and the County Council will be to disentangle county contracting operations from Stenger’s web, perform a deep clean of all who helped advance his pay-for-play practices, and institute far more transparent procurement and contracting procedures going forward. Page wasted no time Tuesday preparing to oust several of Stenger’s cronies. The cleaner system Page has in mind must include the institution of overlapping checks and balances to minimize the possibility of success by individuals intent on using government offices for personal profit. State Auditor Nicole Galloway indicates that she stands ready to assist in identifying gaps, and the county should take her up on the offer. Among Page’s first orders of business should be to establish more effective walls between his own office and county departments authorized to procure services and sign contracts. One of the major weaknesses exposed by the federal indictment unsealed Monday was the enormous, largely unchecked sway Stenger and his senior staffers had over some procurement and contracting procedures. Bidding processes that were supposed to be sealed and fully competitive were allegedly rigged to reward Stenger’s favored donors. One of the main people who made that possible was Sheila Sweeney, who was chief executive of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership and a

longtime board member of the St. Louis County Port Authority. Those key positions, plus her oversight of the Land Clearance for Redevelopment Authority, gave Sweeney extraordinary reach and power to influence contracting approvals. Lax oversight, coupled with enormous power concentrated in the hands of a few officials, no doubt gave Stenger and his accomplices confidence that they could do pretty much what they wanted without being caught. Other city and county governments around the country have learned from past mistakes and instituted stricter procedures and practices to limit graft. New York City, for example, requires politicians and their campaign committees to report significant donors who have business dealings with the city. A “doing business database” lists the names of individuals and companies who have business dealings with New York City’s government. Companies must list the names of all senior managers plus any person with major holdings in the company. The city’s Campaign Finance Board and the public are granted full access to the database to help cross-check the names against campaign donor lists. This is what real transparency looks like. As suspicions ran high regarding Stenger, the County Council last year sought to limit pay-to-play by banning campaign donations from people with pending county business during a 90-day window before and after a contract is put up for bid and subsequently awarded. Nevertheless, significant gaps remain — as Stenger’s indictment made embarrassingly clear. Sam Page listens as council member Hazel Erby calls for public comment before a vote is taken for the new county executive on Monday. ROBERT COHEN, POST-DISPATCH

Playing with fire Trump’s reckless lie about abortion is exactly what the debate doesn’t need.


ight after President Donald Trump officially crossed the 10,000-lie mark in The Washington Post’s ongoing tally, he unfurled one of his worst, telling a crowd over the weekend that healthy newborn babies are being executed after birth by doctors and mothers. In a society where shooting rampages can be sparked by extremist political myths, it’s hard to imagine a more irresponsible fable for a president to drop into the middle of the already-explosive debate over abortion rights. That debate is a serious one, with people of strong convictions on both sides. All of them, regardless of their views, should be loudly condemning Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric. Yet among his fellow Republicans in Congress, the reaction has been one of shameful silence. Trump used to call himself “very pro-choice,” but he now mouths the orthodoxy of his adopted Republican Party. As with his public expressions of biblical faith, to which Trump is also a newcomer, his anti-abortion rhetoric betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the issue. “The baby is born, the mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully,” Trump told a rally in Wisconsin on Saturday, “and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.” To be clear: What Trump described simply does not happen — not within the context of legal abortion, and

presumably not ever. If it did, the doctor and mother both would properly be charged with murder. Period. This is Trump’s cartoonish contribution to the debate over so-called “late-term abortion.” Itself a misnomer, it describes extremely rare third-trimester abortions generally employed only during pregnancies that have already turned dangerous or tragic, and never near (let alone after) full-term normal deliveries. But with his usual mix of ignorance and dishonesty, the president has concocted the most hellish fictional scenario he can. The better to whip up his base. Throughout Trump’s presidency, the Post has tracked what it calls his “false and misleading claims.” He crossed the 10,000 mark Friday, the day before expressing this dystopian delivery-room nonsense. Whether it’s trade, immigration, economic statistics, America’s history or his own documented attempts to thwart the probe into Russian election meddling, Trump has spun whatever warped reality he wanted. He knows his crowds will reward his lies with cheers, and GOP silence will allow them to pass unchallenged. Abortion clinics and providers already face threats of violence, and sometimes actual violence. In spreading this particular kind of lie, Trump is flinging lit matches around a powder keg. If at some point it goes up, Republicans in Congress who didn’t even attempt to rein in their deeply irresponsible president will have to reckon with it.


County loses executive; Better Together loses mayor

and the “perpetual foreigner” persist. Ed Shew • Lake St. Louis

Regarding “St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger indicted in federal pay-for-play sting, resigns” (April 30): This is the same guy who Better Together wanted to make mayor of the mega-city that would be created by the merger of St. Louis and St. Louis County. Tom Bakersmith • Maplewood

Drug abusers could get better care under House bill

Trump cheated and deserves impeachment To Mr. Trump: No, you didn’t win; you cheated. So much of our politics, especially elections, are reported and discussed as if they’re sporting events. And in that context, Vince Lombardi’s famous comment rules: “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” This is doubly true both of Republicans who say the 2016 election settled everything, and of Democrats who shy away from impeachment and look toward the 2020 election to set things right. Winning is the only thing. But using the sports-contest analogy, we now have incontrovertible evidence that the contest was not won fairly. The Trump campaign cheated. If this were the Olympics, his medals would have been taken away from him. And that’s what our Congress needs to do now. If we ever want to restore fair elections — locally, statewide and nationally — we must address the cheating that occurred in 2016. It begins with impeachment. Virginia Gilbert • St. Louis

Stereotyping still harms Asian and Pacific Americans Being labeled “The Model Minority” or “Perpetual Foreigner” is among the damaging stereotypes facing Asian and Pacific Americans. Perhaps the most troubling aspect of prejudice against Asian and Pacific Americans is the denial that there is a problem. I’m still asked, “Where are you from? Your English is so good” — thus assigning me an identity other than American, a “perpetual foreigner,” an often held belief for people who do not share one’s language, religion or skin color. Asian and Pacific Americans are sometimes referred to as the “model minority” and cannot claim discrimination because of high standardized test scores, college attendance and income level. Actually, this term is false flattery, and it’s also often used to drive a racial wedge between Asian and Pacific Americans and African and Hispanic Americans. “If Asians can do it, they can do it.” An unfortunate stereotype, the “model minority” label erases the many Asian and Pacific Americans living in poverty and struggling. Not all are rocket scientists and doctors. They are not monolithic; ask Bhutanese, Hmong, Laotians, Cambodians and Vietnamese. That black failure and Asian success cannot be explained by inequities and racism allows a segment of white America to avoid any responsibility for addressing systematic dehumanization or the damage it continues to inflict. This damage includes segregation, health outcomes, the rise of white nationalism, police brutality, mass incarceration, voter suppression and employment and housing discrimination towards African Americans. As long as people continue seeking ways to forgo responsibility for racism, the stereotypes of the “model minority”

Missouri House Bill 168, currently in the Missouri Senate Health and Pensions Committee, provides protections for health care workers to engage with those who are actively using drugs. Missouri is pouring millions of dollars into other interventions, however harm reduction is one of the only interventions that engage those who are actively using. Community health must continue to care for drug users. Dead people do not recover, and the loss of individuals to overdose causes a long-term ripple through communities. According to the American Action Forum, the Missouri opioid crisis is causing a loss of $57 billion dollars to the state’s economy. This is an economic crisis for our state. Syringe service programs work to get individuals into treatment through direct referral and then get reintegrated into the workforce. Individuals who engage in these programs are five times more likely to enter into treatment programs. Community health workers want to address the opioid crisis, but they need Missouri to pass legislation allowing them to use techniques that are proven to work. Harm reduction is rooted in empowering communities to directly take care of each other, without burdensome regulations. HB 168 is supported by many groups, including the Missouri Network for Opiate Reform and Recovery, Missouri Recovery Network, Missouri Family Health Council, Missouri State Medical Association, Missouri Pharmacy Association, Empower MO, BJC and the City of St. Louis Department of Health. I urge state Sen. Bob Onder to bring HB 168 up for a hearing in his committee, followed by Senate passage. Aaron Laxton • St. Louis

People of privilege should help solve racial injustice For Lent this year, a group of us went on a civil rights pilgrimage to Birmingham, Montgomery and Selma, Ala. A diverse group, we wanted to learn and understand the challenges of the civil rights movement. What we saw, experienced and remembered was brutal and horrific. The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in its starkness and silence, screamed of the innumerable lynchings and terrorism inflicted on innocent people. I was saddened after reading the April 21 letter to the editor by Bryan Kirchoff, “Homes without fathers can be source of society’s woes.” I beg to differ. It is time for people of privilege to find ways to make freedom real and substantial. It is time for broader thinking and action. It is time for equal opportunity. Our society of white privilege has failed to recognize the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow laws that continue as an inordinate number of black males are in the prison system or killed by police. A long list of injustices exists. But we of privilege want to blame the lack of fathers instead of blaming ourselves for a system we created and continue to support that is a “cage of poverty, an abyss of despair, a cup of endurance, a degenerating sense of nobodiness” to use Martin Luther King Jr.’s words. Jane Siebel • St. Louis Read more letters online at STLtoday.com/letters

TOD ROBBERSON editorial Page editor • trobberson@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8382

STLtoday.com/opinion Find us at facebook/PDPlatform • Follow us on twitter @PDEditorial I know that my retirement will make no difference in its cardinal principles, that it will always fight for progress and reform, never tolerate injustice or corruption, always fight demagogues of all parties, never belong to any party, always oppose privileged classes and public plunderers, never lack sympathy with the poor, always remain devoted to the public welfare, never be satisfied with merely printing news, always be drastically independent, never be afraid to attack wrong, whether by predatory plutocracy or predatory poverty • JOSEPH PULITZER • APRIL 10, 1907 PLATFORM •

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