Rick the ingrate

The Missourinet forgot to skewer Texas Governor Rick Perry a few days ago when we talked to him during his job-recruiting visit to our state.  But the fact is this:

By rights, Missourians should consider Texas little more than a southern colony. If it hadn’t been for Missourians, there might not be a  state for Rick Perry to govern, which makes his visit even harder to swallow. 

Plenty of other people have commented on what they see as the hypocrisy of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, which presumably advocates for Missouri business, welcoming him to our state and even giving him a big forum to encourage Chamber members to move to a state that Missourians helped create.  We won’t go into that very much here.  But Missouri deserves more respect than Governor Perry seemed to give it with his raid.  

To begin with, it was Moses Austin, a Potosi lead entrepreneur, who came up with the idea of establishing an American Colony in Texas, the first incursion of American settlers into Spanish territory.  He got permission to bring 300 families, descendants of which proudly claim membership in “The Old 300” organization.  Moses died before he could lead the settlers but his son, Stephen, carried on his father’s dream.  It was while traveling from New Orleans to San Antonio that he learned Mexico had declared its independence from Spain, which allowed closer ties between Austin and the state of Coahuila y Texas.  He took the first 300 families to his settlement in 1825 and got the government to let him bring in 900 more in a few years. 

Austin sowed the seeds of trouble for the Mexicans when, under the power given him, he created a Constitution of Coahuila y Texas.  He also formed an armed group to protect his colonists, an effort that some consider the start of the Texas Rangers.  

Austin’s Americans grew increasingly restive as citizens of Mexico and when Santa Anna started trying to push the settlers out of Texas, the settlers fought back.  The first shooting happened at Gonzales.  A Republic of Texas was proclaimed and six months after the revolution began, Sam Houston captured Santa Anna and Texas became its own nation.   Austin died  at the end of 1836. 

Governor Perry works in a city named for this Missourian.  One would think, therefore, that  he would have more respect for Missouri. 

Apparently not.  At least he didn’t try to take Moses Austin’s bones back home with him.  Texas tried that in 1938 and we wouldn’t let it happen.  Moses and his wife still sleep in Potosi. 

Then there was Green DeWitt.  Green DeWitt was the Ralls County Sheriff  when he, with Austin’s support, got permission to take 400 respectable, hard-working, Catholic families to Texas.  The capital of his colony would be Gonzales.  DeWitt died in 1835.  The story is told that his widow and daughter made a dress into a banner that read “Come and Take It,” a reference to the cannon the Mexicans gave to the community to fend off Indian attacks.  The flag was waved during the battle of Gonzales that started the Texas revolution. 

The revolution that created a state for Governor Rick to govern began in a town founded by a Missourian.  

More than 30 men from that Missourian’s town marched to San Antonio to help the besieged garrison that had taken refuge in the Mission San Antonio de Valero. Some of those men were Missourians or had Missouri ties. 

One was John Smith, a carpenter and engineer from Hannibal who had gone to Texas to collect a debt and stayed there, deserting his Missouri family.  Some sources say Smith was the last adult to leave the Alamo after the siege began, carrying a message to Houston asking for help.  He later became San Antonio’s first mayor and was a member of the Texas Congress.

Jacob Durst left Missouri in 1830. His name is “Darst” in Texas.  He was one of those who dug out the hidden cannon at Gonzalez and fired a load of shrapnel at Mexican troops. 

George Washington Cottle, a member of a pioneering Lincoln County, Missouri family joined other Cottles who settled in the Gonzales area.  Daniel W. Cloud was a Kentuckian who had come to Missouri, as many Kentuckians did in those days, but found little success as a lawyer here, so he headed to Texas.  Missouri native George Tumlinson was also one of those who went to the Alamo from Gonzales. 

Several others with Missouri ties were inside the walls of the Alamo on that final day including two cousins, Asa and Jacob Walker, relatives of Joseph R. Walker, the first sheriff of Jackson County, Missouri.   And the legendary Jim Bowie lived some of his childhood years in southeast Missouri. 

The “Father of the Santa Fe Trail,” William Becknell, moved to the northeast corner of Texas in 1835, fourteen years after leading Missouri’s first successful trade mission to a foreign country (Santa Fe, then Mexican territory).  One story says former Congressman David Crockett spent some time at his home waiting for associates before going on to San Antonio.  Becknell established a company of mounted volunteers in the summer of  ’36 to protect his region from Mexicans.  After the revolution he became a successful livestock raiser and broker.  When the first United States congressional elections were held in Texas, Becknell was appointed to supervise them.  He died in Texas in 1856. 

Missourians considered Texas such a Missouri-friendly place that our Confederate government sought refuge in Marshall where it established the Confederate capitol of Missouri.  The Confederate commander of the western theatre, E. Kirby Smith, gathered the governors of four Confederate states at Marshall to discuss whether he should disband his army.  Missouri Confederate Governor Thomas C. Reynolds didn’t want to give up although a month had passed since Lee had surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia.  But the other three governors decided the cause was lost.  So Smith told United States officials that he had disbanded his army—except for the Missourians.

In June of 1865, Reynolds, Missouri commander Sterling Price, Jo Shelby’s Iron Brigade, and others headed for Mexico, refusing to admit the South had lost the war.  They lowered their banner into the Rio Grande and crossed the border.  Some of the Missourians returned home. Others went to Mexico hoping to take part in another revolution.  But when the revolution collapsed three years later they came back across the river and eventually most came back to Missouri.  

Despite all of the things Missouri has done for Texas, Rick Perry has trotted into Missouri— the parent state of Texas for crying out loud—and has allowed himself—various editorial writers have more or less said– to become a tool of business interests playing political games with a tax increase bill.   

Rick the ingrate, the Governor of Missouri’s prodigal child, Texas.  

And to think Missourians fought and died so he could pull something like this.

tsk, tsk, tsk.

An Olympian Feat: Killing Two Birds with One Credit

We’ve seen St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay in the Capitol, well, relatively often for St. Louis mayors.  He was there the other day to urge lawmakers to extend the Distressed Areas Land Assemblage Tax Credit.  The program’s main beneficiary is developer Paul McKee, who already has collected more than $40 million for his ambitious plans to buy up large chunks of blighted land in north St. Louis and make the area prosperous again. Somehow.

McKee’s biggest problem is that the tax credit program created in 2007 expires in August and he’s still a long way from finishing  his plan to buy up all of the land he wants. One of those he and his 17 lobbyists will have to turn around is Senator Brad Lager, who comes from Savannah, which is a long, long way from north St.Louis–it’s up near St. Joseph.  He didn’t like the idea in 2007 and told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch earlier this year, “We were promised all these great things were going to be happening down there. We’ve spent millions of dollars and we’ve yet to see a shovel of turned dirt.” The entire land assemblage idea has had similar critics from the beginning and the project appears no more endearing to many lawmakers after six years.  It needs an injection of pizazz.

Surely we’re not the only ones who noticed something last month that piqued our curiosity and might become the project’s Pizazz Puzzle piece.

The United States Olympic Committee has asked Mayor Slay and mayors of 34 other cities if they would be interested in bidding for the 2024 Olympics.  A Slay spokesman said the letter was flattering but “that’s a big undertaking.”

Ah, yes it is.  The Olympics will require a lot of new facilities.  And a lot of new facilities will require a lot of land.  And guess who is trying to assemble a lot of land.  And guess what state and city already have invested $40 million  in the process of assembling that land and is considering extending the tax credit program to assemble more.  And guess which of the 35 cities has a significant leg up on assembling land for an Olympic Village.

New York lost a bid for the 2012 Olympics and Chicago failed to get the 2016 games.  Both spent a mere $10 million preparing for the possibility they might be chosen.  St. Louis and Missouri already have invested four times that much in the McKee project.

McKee needs something sexy to seize the imagination of state lawmakers and put some magic into his redevelopment project.  Maybe he and his 17 lobbyists and the mayor can get some traction if they start talking Olympics instead of homes, apartments, and shopping areas.

Let the games, uh,  continue.


Members of the legislature shouldn’t be surprised if St. Louis interests soon start prowling the Capitol halls hoping to convince the state to help build a new pro football stadium in St. Louis.  The state is on the hook to help pay off bonds for the present domed stadium until the mid-2020s.  So are St. Louis City and St. Louis County.  The state kicks in $12 million a year in payments of 30-year bonds. The city and the county split the other half of the bond payments.

The present dome cost more than $300 million to build but the final cost of the bonds will be about $720 million dollars.  The Rams are free to bolt after 2015 if the present stadium is not in the top 25 percent of all NFL stadiums.

St. Louis faces the threat of losing the team a decade before those bonds are paid off unless it finds a way to pay for a major facelift that will cost an estimated $700 million more, minimum.  The clock is ticking on a 30-day deadline for the St. Louis Convention and Visitors Bureau to decide what it wants to do.  A lawyer for the CVB tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it is “unlikely” the city will buy into the Rams’ facelift plan.  What is more likely is a whole new stadium.  Several sites already are being discussed.  The project isn’t just a stadium.  It’s a STAY-dium.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the league will help provide some funding, whatever that means. Team owner Stan Kroenke has not said how much he and the team are willing to put in the pot. But a million dollars to a million doughnuts, city officials will be asking the state to kick in, too.

That will trigger the arguments we’ve heard before on the domed stadium in St. Louis, the new ballpark (and the, at last, development of Ball Park Village) in St. Louis, and the upgrades to the Jackson County Sports Complex.  Those arguments usually involve whether spending millions of tax dollars on a new stadium where millionaire players perform for a multi-millionaire  owner where ticket prices are beyond the realistic reach of thousands of Missourians is proper.  Representatives and Senators from the corners of the state will ask what their people get out of this investment and whether the economic activity generated by the expenditure of those millions really does pay off for the citizens of all of Missouri.

The timing certainly could be better.  Legislators are considering a one-billion dollar bond issue for state infrastructure.  They’re considering a proposal to provide billions of dollars for the state’s transportation program.  They’re thinking of writing a new school funding formula because they’re an estimated $620 million dollars behind in payments to public school districts.  They’re under pressure to expand the Medicaid program at a time when federal fiscal uncertainty clouds the future of the existing Medicaid program and a lot of other state efforts.

St. Louis will not have an easy time making its case at the Capitol.
And surely someone will mention that the Rams have not had a winning season since 2003 and have been at .500 only three times in the last nine years.  Last year the Rams were 7-8-1 and there is optimism that they’ll do better in 2013. They’re 49-94-1 since they finished 12-4 in 2003.  But Kroenke is a new owner and he has brought in new management.  Nonetheless, lawmakers who question whether their part of the state will benefit from building a big honkin’ new stadium for the Rams might be hard sells in light of the Rams’ inability to field winning teams in a stadium that is costing taxpayers $12 million a year and might cost taxpayers that much money for several years after the Rams have left town.

The Missourinet has seen it all before.  We know we’ll see it again.  As long as there are major league sports, Missouri’s biggest cities will want to protect their standings as major league cities no matter what the cost.