Lembke certainly running, but in the wrong direction

By MIKE ANTHONY

It’s evident that Rep. Jim Lembke, R-Lemay, is running for something, but what’s baffling is that he’s running away from the residents he was elected to serve.

If there’s a high-visibility issue, Rep. Lembke’s sure to be seen.

He recently addressed the County Council, speaking against the county’s plans to form trash districts in unincorporated areas.

Just last week, he attended a rally in Clayton sponsored by the St. Louis County Citizens for Tax Relief Now.

Besides Rep. Lembke, the “Tax Relief Rollback Rally” attracted about 50 residents and five other state legislators.

Now this week, he’s quoted in a news release issued by House Speaker Rod Jetton announcing the creation of a new task force to analyze property tax rates in Missouri.

“We have been trying to do something about these rising tax rates for a while now, but having a very vocal grass-roots group get behind the issue as well is going to make our voice calling for reform louder,” Rep. Lembke stated in the release.

Rep. Lembke talks a good game, but when he actually had the opportunity to help south county residents relieve their tax burden, he twice has failed them in recent months, apparently pandering to organized labor in his bid for the state Senate.

Let’s not forget how he voted against an amendment introduced by fellow Republican Walt Bivins of Oakville that sought to modify legislation creating a five-member board to oversee fire protection districts’ pension plans.

The constitutionality of that pension-board provision currently is being challenged in court.

More egregious, however, was his flip-flop on introducing legislation that would allow voters to consider tax-rate-decrease proposals.

After a St. Louis County Circuit Court judge in February removed a tax-decrease proposition that the Mehlville Fire Protection District board had placed on the April ballot, Rep. Lembke told this newspaper he would introduce legislation that would allow an elected board to place a tax-rate decrease before voters.

But in May, he said he changed his mind and would not introduce such legislation after further studying the issue and at the behest of numerous fire districts.

Anyone can show up to a meeting just to be seen, but until Rep. Lembke shows some consistency and backbone, he will continue to be denied this newspaper’s endorsement.