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Monday, February 08, 2016

Raining On Kroenke's TIF

I agree completely with this Post-Dispatch editorial on why it would be a horrible idea for Maryland Heights to grant a TIF to Stan Kroenke and his business partner for an 1,800-acre development in the farmland surrounding Route 141.

My dislike for the plan isn't rooted in disgust with Kroenke for the way he treated our region while moving the Rams back to Los Angeles, although that bitter taste is certainly a factor. I intensely dislike the TIF for the same reason I hated the idea of St. Louis and the state of Missouri spending our tax dollars to build a stadium for an NFL billionaire. We have to stop these monster giveaways to one-percenters who have enough capital to build things themselves (as Kroenke will do in California).

This comes at a time when our legislature is considering, as a way to raise money to fix our crumbling infrastructure, cutting welfare benefits for the poor instead of raising the ridiculously low gas tax. It's a classic extremist conservative move -- redistributing funds from the bottom of the economic pyramid to the top, hurting the don't-haves and further enriching the haves. It keeps happening because there's no one on city councils or in Jefferson City (or Washington) lobbying on behalf of the public. That's supposed to be the job of our elected representatives, but they long ago abandoned that job responsibility when the checks starting coming in from private concerns that have hundreds of lobbyists and even more strings to pull.

One question the editorial doesn't ask about turning the farmland along 141 into a mixed-use commercial development is, "What are they going to do about the flooding?" The farmers got together years ago and built a levee to keep the Missouri River from flowing onto their land, but they can't do anything about the bottoms retaining water during torrential downpours. The problem became self-evident again over Christmas when the ground was covered by several inches of rain -- not for a day, but for a couple of weeks. I drive that road regularly and saw with my own eyes that the only thing that was above water was the actual roadway -- with the water lapping at its edges or, in some cases, overrunning a lane or two.

How can any business exist in an environment where there's no place for the rain to drain because it stays mainly on the plain?