Editorial Roundup: Missouri

St. Louis Post-Dispatch. November 22, 2021.

Editorial: Kroenke twists in the wind as St. Louis’ case against the NFL heats up

Ever since Rams owner Stan Kroenke decided to publicly trash St. Louis as he moved his team to Los Angeles in 2016, the billionaire has been the No. 1 person St. Louisans love to hate. (Think Stan Kroenke urinal cakes.) It appears some NFL team owners are starting to agree with that sentiment, especially as a costly court battle over Kroenke’s move is forcing them to reveal financial information they’d really prefer not to be made public.

For St. Louisans, the infighting among this once tightly unified band of billionaire brothers is something to savor. Kroenke is clearly squirming under the pressure as lawyers representing the city, county and the St. Louis Regional Convention and Sports Complex Authority press their well-justified demands for billions of dollars in compensation for the injustices Kroenke and the NFL inflicted.

When the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in 2017, the prospects for success seemed exceedingly bleak: a small team of local lawyers challenging the behemoth National Football League and a legal fortress backed by some of the country’s richest men. But at every key turn in the case, St. Louis Circuit Judge Christopher McGraugh has rejected bids by the NFL and owners to have the case thrown out or moved to another venue. Perhaps most importantly, he upheld the plaintiffs’ demand for access to team owners’ financial information. Some continue to object and delay, testing the court’s patience.

The owners in question are part of the league’s Los Angeles committee who engineered the move despite claiming to give good-faith consideration of St. Louis’ efforts to keep the Rams here by mustering financial support and securing plans to construct an expensive new stadium.

Juicy as the plaintiffs’ court victories have been, the best might be yet to come. A very embarrassing court trial could start in January just as Kroenke prepares to host the Super Bowl in his expensive new Los Angeles-area stadium. McGraugh has set Dec. 3 as the deadline for owners to hand over their financial information. Mediation could start this week to reach a settlement before this case draws national headlines away from the Super Bowl. The owners appear to be losing patience and reportedly are putting extra pressure on Kroenke to make this nightmare go away.

What started out as a Hail Mary bid by the plaintiffs to recover about $18 million in costs to keep the Rams here could turn into a major financial windfall for the region, even after the lawyers take their cut.

Pick your metaphor: St. Louis is the mouse that roared, the little engine that could. The NFL is quaking, and deservedly so for the ways the owners violated the public’s trust in their backroom decision to approve the Rams’ move regardless of whatever offer St. Louis put on the table. And the trash-talking Kroenke may be finally getting his comeuppance.

___

Jefferson City News Tribune. November 21, 2021.

Editorial: Promising changes for Social Services

We see indications that the new acting director of the Missouri Department of Social Services will make some needed changes to the troubled department.

We see indications that the new acting director of the Missouri Department of Social Services will make some needed changes to the troubled department.

But we also believe the agency faces serious challenges that he alone won’t be able to fix.

We see indications that the new acting director of the Missouri Department of Social Services will make some needed changes to the troubled department.

But we also believe the agency faces serious challenges that he alone won’t be able to fix.

___

St. Joseph News Press. November 21, 2021.

Editorial: Those poor officeholders

Some Buchanan County officeholders might be smarting at the thought of going a couple more years stuck on $68,000 a year in base pay.

In odd-numbered years, these officials meet to consider a possible salary increase for their elected positions. A motion to bump the pay from $68,000 to $70,000 was rejected, with six voting against it and five in favor.

For the record, those voting against the proposal were Auditor Tara Horn, Eastern District Commissioner Scott Burnham, Presiding Commissioner Lee Sawyer, Public Administrator Annette Bertelsen, Recorder Becky Dunlap and Collector Peggy Campbell.

Those in favor were Western District Commissioner Ron Hook, Sheriff Bill Puett, Prosecutor Ron Holliday, Clerk Mary Baack-Garvey and Treasurer David Gall. Assessor Dean Wilson, who took office in August, abstained.

For those on the losing side of this vote, it might seem unfair to go two or more years without a pay increase and to have to take an open vote knowing how public opinion leans on this one. But this is the season of thankfulness, and these officials have plenty of reason to count their blessings.

Consider:

— You’re not teachers. An elected officeholder stands to make $68,000 a year on day one. In the St. Joseph School District, a teacher with a master’s degree tops out at $67,034 after 31 years.

— You’re not everyone else. The median household income in St. Joseph is $48,197. Horn, the auditor who voted against the increase, pointed out that some courthouse employees make less than $30,000 a year.

— You’ve taken care of yourself in the past. Ten years ago, elected officials were making $55,000 a year, so salaries have risen a total of 23% since then.

— No one will ever accuse you of benefiting from an unfunded mandate. The prosecutor is paid $145,000 a year and the sheriff is in line to receive $116,000 because that’s what the legislature requires. Salaries for other positions are determined the way they should be, in public by the people who must go before voters every four years.

— You can blame two TFGs. Former Treasurer John Nash and Assessor Scot Van Meter goosed their salaries with cost-of-living adjustments, despite a difference of opinion on whether this was appropriate. This created confusion, both in the courthouse and the general public. It’s reasonable to expect a couple of years of allowing salaries between offices to become more equalized.

— You only have to work 37.5 hours a week.

So there are your glass-half-full thoughts for officeholders to consider on the week of Thanksgiving. The courthouse, of course, will be closed this coming Thursday and Friday.

END