Florissant is the oldest and largest city in St. Louis County, and only Ste. Genevieve, St. Louis and St. Charles are older in the entire Louisiana Purchase Territory. Founded by the Spanish governor of the Louisiana Territory in 1786, Florissant is older than St. Louis County, older than the state of Missouri, and even a few years older than the Constitution of the United States. We have been a sovereign community under three countries — Spain, France or the United States — for 233 years. We appreciate our long history as a sovereign city and wish it to continue for another 233 years.
We would like to continue to be protected by police whom we know and trust. The award-winning Florissant Police Department is one of the best law enforcement agencies anywhere and was one of the first to receive the gold standard in public safety, certification from The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Other agencies, including the county and city police departments, have always had the highest respect and have tried to emulate our department. The Florissant Police Department is our most valuable asset and is highly appreciated by our residents and is also one of reasons why many investors continue to locate and develop their business in Florissant.
We would prefer to maintain our streets, bridges, sidewalks and other infrastructure rather than surrender it to the Better Together plan. Florissant has a very proactive Public Works Department, which has been validated by our voters with additional revenue to continue proven programs to maintain and systematically rebuild our streets and sidewalks. We are way ahead of the curve compared to the rest of the nation in that we have been systematically replacing our bridges and culverts for more than 40 years, ever since I served under Mayor James J. Eagan as city engineer from 1976 to 1978.
We want to participate in a conversation on how to be a part of a more competitive metropolitan area, but neither I as mayor nor our City Council members were asked by Better Together for our opinions, nor were we consulted by the county executive or the St. Louis mayor despite the fact that we are acquainted and have been in the same room at the same time many times.
We find it contradictory and puzzling that one day the editorial page of the Post-Dispatch laments the dysfunction of St. Louis city or county, or their chief executives or their law enforcement agencies, and the next day’s editorial page supports the idea of a statewide vote to create a one-size-fits-all mega government controlled by the remotest of leaders.
We think any regional decisions on governance change should be made by the citizens who would be affected. We would be reluctant to entertain the idea of voting to compromise the sovereignty or the method of governing of Rolla, Poplar Bluff, Independence, Springfield or Hannibal. It is hoped that the information in the 160-page Better Together report and other reports such as the 25-page report prepared by UMSL’s Terry Jones in 2014 — titled “Toward Regionalism: The St. Louis Approach” — and relevant material such as the written position of the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs Association will be useful to the forthcoming Board of Freeholders.
We support and will participate in the initiative of the Municipal League of Metro St. Louis to collect the necessary signatures to enable a Board of Freeholders (also called Board of Electors) to be formed who will be mandated to hold open public meetings and hearings so that the will of the citizens can be heard in open dialogue and testimony. Open-to-the-public discussions have been a bedrock tradition in our republic, for about as long as Florissant has been sovereign.
Thomas P. Schneider is the mayor of Florissant.