“I lost 10 points just for being in the right place, at exactly the wrong time” — Eagles
Mayor Lyda Krewson got smacked again this week by the Shadow Mayor, Tishaura Jones.
After Krewson announced a $25,000 reward — a limited-time offer, actually — after yet another child was killed by gunfire in St. Louis, Jones wrote a scathing column in the St. Louis American explaining why a reward was an inadequate and irrelevant response. None of the solutions Jones then proposed would eradicate violence in the city, but at least they were ideas, programs, something more concrete than rewards and balloon releases.
Plus, Jones got a good whack in at the fact that the reward was offered by Rex Sinquefield, who financed the wildly unpopular Better Together campaign and is currently leading the charge to privatize the airport.
Whack, whack, whack. Being mayor wasn’t supposed to be this hard.
Krewson is smart and personable. Had she not gone into politics, you’d say of her, “Why can’t we get people like her to run for office?” She was one of five serious candidates in the mayoral race of 2017. The other four were black. In St. Louis politics, that meant Krewson in a landslide. The political establishment, comprised mainly of white, male Baby Boomers, took heart. The band wasn’t breaking up just yet.
But election night was a shocker. Jones, the city treasurer, nearly won. She had the support of white millennials. That had to come as a shock to Krewson. Her children are millennials. She relates to them. She might not be woke, but she’s not sound asleep, either.
Krewson was going to bring things together with some town hall meetings, but then former police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder, and protesters took to the streets. Krewson canceled the town hall meetings and said, the meetings are taking place in the streets and I’m listening.
But nobody was listening to her, and soon the protesters were on her street, at her house. Like she had something to do with the trial.
Later, the city got a blip of good news when we got money for some Arch improvements, and Krewson, after posing for a photo with some other dignitaries, wrote that this was a “perfect example of what we can accomplish when we work together.”
When some people pointed out that all the dignitaries in the photo were white, Krewson offered a public apology, but Jones, who had by then assumed the position of Shadow Mayor, smacked down the apology. We are tired of apologies, she said.
Disaster followed with Better Together. Krewson embraced the bizarre notion that the city and county should merge regardless of whether the citizens of either favored the idea. She has also supported the Sinquefield-financed study about airport privatization, an idea that is hardly ever referred to as a plan, but almost always as a scheme.
In other words, Krewson does not seem to be coasting toward reelection. It is not a plus when your résumé includes, “Favored turning the whole thing over to Steve Stenger.”
But is performance really a benchmark? The voters reelected Francis Slay three times, and the city didn’t do so hot under him. It’s true that Clarence Harmon only served one term, but he didn’t like the job and didn’t always come in. The clock on City Hall broke during his watch, and I wrote, “Why should the clock work if the mayor won’t?”
Freeman Bosley Jr. only served one term, but there were extenuating circumstances. Improprieties. He was betrayed by people he put in positions of trust.
His predecessor, Vincent C. Schoemehl, was a three-termer. Of course, Schoemehl was colorful, exciting. Even after he left office, he retained the ability to generate headlines. When he served on the school board and angrily compared upset parents to Nazis, he voted to censure himself. How many people can pull that off?
He was also capable of thinking outside the box. During his mayoral days, when black leaders said they deserved a voice on the city’s powerful Estimate and Apportionment Board, Schoemehl engineered a job switch in which Comptroller Paul Berra traded places with Assessor Virvus Jones, who automatically became a powerful person. He is the Shadow Mayor’s father.
So maybe Krewson’s problems started long before she even thought of politics. Maybe her problems started when Schoemehl defeated the incumbent, Mayor James Conway.
By the way, Conway’s son, Stephen, is now Krewson’s chief of staff. It is as if some weird sort of dots are connecting. I am not a suspicious person, but things don’t bode well for Krewson’s political future.