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Regional Business Council biggest final donor in Nov. 3 election

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 26, 2009 - The Regional Business Council, a consortium of the top executives of 100 area companies, has kicked in $75,000 to help supporters of E-911, the sales-tax proposal to raise money to revamp the public-safety communications in St. Louis County.

The proposal to create a 1/10 of one-percent sales tax to pay for the new system and equipment is on St. Louis County's Nov. 3 ballot.

The council's donations amount to more than a quarter of the $218,700.16 that the proposal's campaign group, Citizens in Support of E-911, reported raising as of Friday. The group's reports, filed Monday, showed that it had spent $93,103.38, and had $125,596.78 in the bank. (The figures combine two reports, one of which detailed the council's latest $25,000 donation.)

The E-911 group earlier had collected even more generous contributions -- totaling $100,000 and given in September -- from Civic Progress, the local organization of the region's top chief executives.

The E-911 group's other big donations include $10,000 apiece from AmerenUE, Anheuser-Busch Cos. In., and BJC Healthcare, and $5,000 from Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Business Council chief executive Kathy Osborn said the council's donations reflect the fact that its members have been impressed by the arguments put forth in favor of E-911 by area police and firefighters, and by the professionalism of their campaign.

The E-911 group has no organized opposition, but it has raised far more than the two warring sides in the other measure on the Nov. 3 ballot -- Proposition N, which would ban smoking in most public places.

The pro-Prop N group, County Citizens for Cleaner Air, reported raising only $12,336, spending $2,502.59, with $9,833.50 on hand.

The opposition, Citizens Against Proposition N, reported raising $5,000, spending $11,867, with $104.85 on hand, and a debt of $11,972.

(The numbers on campaign reports often don't add up, generally because of unpaid bills and money carried over from previous campaigns.)

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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