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St. Louis NAACP And Union's Leaders Urge Krewson To Reopen Airport Privatization Talks

St. Louis Lambert International Airport. August 2018
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis NAACP and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council hope talks of airport privatization resume.

The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP and the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council are calling on the city to resume talks on privatizing St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

Adolphus Pruitt, president of the St. Louis NAACP, said Monday the city should restart privatization talks because it could generate revenue that officials could direct to north St. Louis to reduce blight and poverty.

“To address those issues, it’s going to take a substantial amount of resources that are unencumbered,” Pruitt said. “The only way we feel those resources to be generated is from some form of public partnership that would transform not only Lambert but would provide the impetus and the resources to transform north St. Louis.”

For months, Krewson supported privatizing the airport on the grounds that it would cancel out airport debt and bring in up to $2 billion in net proceeds. But last month, sheannounced she would no longer pursue airport privatization efforts, citing a lack of public support.

Krewson’s spokesman, Jacob Long, said the mayor has no plans to reverse her decision.

“The NAACP and the Carpenters Regional Council are entitled to their opinions,” Long said. “At this time, the mayor’s position on the airport privatization is unchanged.”

Leaders for the two organizations said Monday that they’ve submitted a public records request to the city seeking the release of all documents related to the Airport Advisory Working Group. They say the public deserves to see documents submitted by interested companies. 

“We want the public to hear directly from the people who turn possibilities into reality,” said Al Bond, the Carpenters Union executive secretary-treasurer. “Citizens deserve to see if this could be accomplished, have a voice and ultimately have a vote.”

They’ve encouraged companies interested in leasing the airport to submit proposals.

If Krewson doesn’t continue airport privatization efforts, Bond and Pruitt hope the Board of Aldermen will.

Pruitt said while there hasn’t been any guarantee that privatization would lead to more money for north St. Louis, he expects that the aldermen would ensure that happens.

“I have all the confidence in the world that we have a Board of Aldermen that has the ability to equitably expend those dollars and allocate those dollars to areas that need it the most,” Pruitt said.

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.