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Ward Reduction Reversal Faces More Delays At St. Louis Board Of Aldermen

The Board of Aldermen chambers on July 7, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
A vote to reverse the reduction of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen is again delayed.

Efforts to ask St. Louis residents to weigh in again on reducing the number of city aldermen by 2023 are on hold.

The decision made Friday to delay any action on legislation forcing another referendum acknowledges the difficulty supporters will have in getting the 20 votes needed to override a promised mayoral veto.

“I’m not going to stop talking about race,” said Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, the main champion of reversing ward reduction. “I’m going to be radical. I’m going to continue to talk about the injustices that black people go through. I will work with any aldermen to progress not only their ward but mine as well. But I am not going to sit here and be naïve about the condition that we are in. We need your help, frankly put.”

Voters in 2012 decided to cut the wards from 28 to 14. But for the past two years, members of the Black Caucus have tried to force another referendum.

“The last time we put this on a ballot, a lot of us down here went to sleep, and it just sailed on through, because we were arrogant enough to think that it wasn’t going to happen,” said Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, D-22nd Ward, who voted for the measure in 2012. “But [the voters] weren’t educated. If you vote for this bill, it does not mean that you agree with the reduction of the Board of Aldermen. What it says is, 'I’m willing to put it back on the ballot based on the new information that I’m receiving to see if in fact that it is the will of the people.'”

Medical marijuana facilities

Aldermen are on track to approve restrictions on where medical marijuana facilities can locate in the city.

The zoning limits got first-round approval Friday by a wide margin, and Mayor Lyda Krewson supports the legislation. Growing and packaging facilities would be allowed only in industrial areas, while dispensaries would be allowed in most commercial zones. Nothing is permitted in residential areas.

“I’m open for business in the 5th Ward,” said its alderwoman, Tammika Hubbard. “But it’s my hope that in issuing these licenses, they’ll look at it from a racial-equity standpoint to make sure that racial minorities are definitely involved in that process.”

The state will determine who gets the various licenses. Companies can start applying in August.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.