The Call makes endorsements for contests in the April 2 election

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Editorial 

MSD Proposition S stormwater impervious fee

We were neutral on this proposition, but if longtime MSD critic Tom Sullivan actually thinks it might be a good idea, we can’t help but agree. The Call endorses Prop S.

Lindbergh Proposition R bond issue

If Prop R, a $105 million, 83-cent no-tax-rate-increase bond issue is approved by voters, the district will construct an almost completely new Lindbergh High School and add secure entryways onto every school that doesn’t yet have them. The bond issue does not increase the district’s current debt-service tax rate, but if voters don’t approve it, it would go down in the 2030s. But anyone who walks through Lindbergh High School can see that the school is in need of modernization that matches the district’s achievement in academics. Perhaps the most egregious aspect of the high school is its open California-style campus, which is a terrible idea in St. Louis weather and, in the society we live in, is a security threat.

The Call endorses Proposition R.

Mehlville fire board

Two-term incumbent Secretary Ed Ryan is being challenged by newcomer Fred Baumgarth, a 33-year retired firefighter. Those are nice credentials, and Baumgarth seems earnest and willing to accept past changes while making new ones.

But Ryan has served the district well, saving the district hundreds of thousands with his expertise as an engineer. More importantly, he’s saved taxpayers loads of money by voting for the district to have the lowest tax rate of any in St. Louis County for 13 years in a row. Ryan has served on the board 12 of those years. Baumgarth’s decision not to attack Ryan was refreshing, and we respect him for running and offering voters a choice.

But he declined to participate in a forum, and the Call believes that public officials-to-be, especially newcomers, should articulate their positions so that voters have a clear choice. His decision not to debate makes this decision easy for voters.

Now it’s up to voters to decide if they like having a well-run fire district with the lowest tax rate.

For our money, we endorse Ryan.

St. Louis County Charter Amendment Proposition 1 

The County Council voted 6-1 to place Proposition 1 on the ballot to amend the St. Louis County Charter, which states that the county’s only lawyer is the county counselor, who is appointed by the county executive. But council members feel that amounts to a conflict of interest when the council disagrees with the county executive and they have to share a lawyer. Voters already rejected the council hiring its own lawyer, but the council sees a workaround, at least in theory: Certain members of the county counselor’s office could be designated to work for the council, while others work for the executive and judicial branches.

And they will all gather around and sing “Kumbaya”? Not quite so fast.

Two of south county’s three members on the County Council, 6th District Councilman Ernie Trakas, R-Oakville, and 3rd District Councilman Tim Fitch, R-Fenton, both say that this amendment will do nothing to ensure that the county counselor assigned to represent the council has a conflict of interest because those lawyers still report to County Counselor Peter Krane, who serves at the pleasure of County Executive Steve Stenger.

The amendment cost $380,000 to place on the ballot according to preliminary estimates, but we’re not sure the county is going to get that much in value back from approving it, especially in a time that the very council members who placed it on the ballot are claiming that the county is in a budget crisis.

We also believe there should be a moratorium on changes to the Charter while the current county Charter Commission conducts its work. Voters approved that process in November, and all changes should go through it for now.

But does an endorsement really matter in this case? If voters approve the amendment or reject it, it seems things essentially stay the same beyond a few worthless lines in the Charter.

In any case, we endorse a “no” vote on this proposition.

Perhaps council members will think twice in the future before they approve costly ballot measures that have little effect on the problem they’re trying to solve.

Bayless Schools bond issue Proposition 1

The school district is proposing a 53-cent, $7.3 million no-tax-rate-increase bond issue, Proposition 1, to add on to Bayless Junior High to build a new cafeteria and library, along with new classrooms.

Currently, students have to walk outside no matter the weather in order to eat lunch and get books from the library, which are things we see as basic school services. Some in the community have taken an “I walked uphill both ways” philosophy on this bond issue and said that they walked outside to get to lunch and the library when they were students at Bayless, so why shouldn’t students today have to do the same thing?

But similarly to the upgrades planned for Lindbergh High School in Lindbergh Schools’ Proposition R bond issue (see above), in today’s world matters of safety and security are at the forefront of parents’ minds. If something happened at the school, the same people who complain about this new addition are the first ones who would be saying that the security risk of students walking outside was obvious, and why didn’t anyone do anything about it?

Well, now’s the time to do something about it. Hopefully this gets enough votes to pass, as it nearly did with a majority of votes last year as a larger bond issue that also included improvements to Bayless High School. But since bond issues require a four-sevenths majority rather than 50 percent, the bond issue was “rejected” last year even though 54 percent of voters approved it. Let’s hope the second time is the charm for Bayless.

The Call endorses Bayless Proposition 1.

Editor’s note: This editorial has been updated from the print edition.