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More municipal court reform conversations needed, say Normandy mayor and Beyond Housing CEO

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Normandy Mayor Patrick Green and Beyond Housing President and CEO Chris Krehmeyer address municipal court reform.

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, Beyond Housing President and CEO Chris Krehmeyer and Normandy Mayor Patrick Green joined host Don Marsh in discussing Senate Bill 5, which deals with municipal court overhaul. Recently, a Cole County judge rejected major parts of the law. More background on that here.

Green and Krehmeyer appeared on the show with another perspective from that presented during Thomas Harvey and Starsky Wilson’s appearance a few weeks ago. Listen to that segment here.

“My objection from day one is the fact that it picks different parts of the region out with a different percentage,” said Green. “We were not allowed at the table to play a role in determining how we can solve these issues. You can’t just pick out a particular area without thinking about the impacts of what that has on the community. We all agree that there are issues and concerns and problems that need to be addressed, but it is how you go about doing that. With a broad brush is not how you do that.”

Krehmeyer said that a solely financial metric does seem the way to guarantee good governance. To have a different rate for every other place except St. Louis County seems unfair, he continued.

“I think there needs to be metrics around ensuring you don’t violate anyone’s rights and that the proportionality makes sure the punishment suits the crime committed,” Krehmeyer said. “For going 11 miles over the speed limit, you shouldn’t go to jail for that. But it shouldn’t be that there are no repercussions. What does that look like? Lots of folks have said community service. How does that get paid for? … there are a lot of great ideas, but we would hope there would be a robust conversation among those who run municipalities. Who is part of the conversation? There’s a lot of top-down conversations.”

Green said that municipalities asked to be included in the conversation about SB5, but were left out.

“We’re the soldiers,” Green said. “We asked for a hand-in-hand collaboration and what we got was a push-back. The problem is that we don’t want a push-back, we want a collaborative effort to look at ‘can we do this better?’ Sure, we can. 24:1 was working on a lot of these issues before and that was thrown under the rug. I don’t understand that. That says there were people looking at these issues. The attorney general and others were aware of these issues for longer before Mike Brown — where were they?”

There’s a misperception, Krehmeyer said, that municipalities don’t want to work for change.

“Right now, we’re working with Mayor Green and 11 of his peers to consolidate all of their courts into one court system,” he continued. “There’s not this ‘Oh, please leave us alone,’ there’s the acknowledgment that the world is changing. Leaders understand that and they’re going through a thoughtful process.”

That process is a slow one. Software systems, code issues, administration, oversight, among other things, need to be figured out before courts can be consolidated, said Krehmeyer.

“What we would love to have would be a broad-based conversation of ‘what would change look like?’ with municipal leaders,” Krehmeyer said.

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.