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St. Louis Board of Aldermen approve civilian oversight board

Alderman Antonio French addresses the St. Louis Board of Aldermen before voting on a bill for a civilian oversight board to investigate complaints against city police officers on Monday, April 20, 2015. French sponsored the bill, which passed in a 17-8 vote. Photo by Cristina Fletes-Boutte, cfletes-boutte@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS • Alderman Antonio French vowed on Friday to filibuster any city financing package for an NFL stadium unless the city develops a comprehensive plan to deal with crime.

French said he and other aldermen would hold up city taxpayer funds for the proposed $1 billion stadium.

“There seems to be a complete lack of urgency,” French said of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s efforts in dealing with crime.

After the meeting, French said Slay’s administration had focused too much on the city’s central corridor and not enough on other parts of the city that are struggling with crime.

He later Tweeted: “Until @MayorSlay sits down with us to develop a satisfactory #comprehensiveplan to reduce violence, we’ll block any funds for a new stadium.”

Aldermen are expected to introduce legislation in coming days to cover a portion of new stadium construction.

Mary Ellen Ponder, Slay’s chief of staff, said in a statement that Slay and the “city has had a comprehensive approach to crime fighting for 14 years.”

Ponder directed people to the city’s public safety website.

“There are too many shootings, too many deaths,” Ponder said. “Politicizing crime won’t make anyone any safer. The best way to fight crime is for everyone to be united against criminals.”

The statement stopped short of saying whether Slay would meet with French. Maggie Crane, a spokeswoman for Slay, said Slay would meet with him, but questioned whether French would actually sit down with the mayor.

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Nicholas J.C. Pistor is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.