Our First Day in Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2014

Take Back St. Louis Statement on Today’s Hearing on Initiative

Today, attorneys from Stinson Leonard Street, a law firm that does significant lobbying for Peabody Coal, asked Judge Dierker to issue an injunction on the Board of Elections and City of St. Louis regarding the Take Back St. Louis initiative that will be on the ballot for city voters April 8, 2014. Reginald Rounds with the Take Back St. Louis campaign issued the following response:

Today we saw Peabody’s attorneys attempt to politic in the courts instead of making their case to city voters. We collected over 21,000 valid signatures of registered St. Louis voters who want a chance to vote on the Take Back St. Louis proposition. The ability of citizens to petition our local  government is integral to the democratic process. We will not let Peabody Coal’s lawyers stop our local democratic process. It was alarming and upsetting to see Rodney Crim and Mary Ellen Ponder, officials from the elected Mayor’s Office, side with corporations that are attempting to rob citizens of their right to petition their government, as well as attempt to invalidate the hard work of hundreds of city residents who have been part of the Take Back St. Louis campaign.

Today, we saw Peabody’s lawyers continue to attempt to confuse people on what the Take Back St. Louis initiative will do. Let us be clear: the initiative will end public financial incentives, like TIFs and tax breaks, to two categories of companies. The first category are corporations that are involved in the mining and extraction of coal, oil and natural gas, like Peabody Coal or ExxonMobil. The second category are corporations exchange over $1 million per year directly with these mining companies, such as law firms, lobbyists and big utilities like Laclede Gas and Ameren. The Take Back St. Louis initiative will not end tax breaks to companies purchasing over $1 million of electricity or fuel.

We believe that companies that are doing business with fossil fuel mining corporations do not deserve our public money, since fossil fuel mining companies everyday pollute the water and the air and cause climate change. We also fundamentally do not think that companies able to exchange over $1 million of business need any sorts of tax breaks from our city. These big corporations should pay their fair share like the rest of us to support schools, firefighters and other important public services.

The hundreds of volunteers who have been involved in the Take Back St. Louis campaign have done so because we think we need to change the way that development works in this city. We want city agencies like the St. Louis Development Corporation to reorient their priorities towards creating green jobs on vacant lots in city neighborhoods, not towards using tax dollars to pay for new fitness centers for Peabody Coal.

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