There’s a $20 million dollar, taxpayer-funded community center in North St. Louis and no one’s using it. Why? At first we thought it was because it’s in North City and there’s probably some scary gang hanging out by the front door, which still might be true, but the actual reason is because the door is locked over political fighting between Mayor Slay and Alderman Antonio French.
Here’s the short version: French doesn’t want the rec center to open until his demands for a better deals for his residents are met, and the Mayor disagrees and doesn’t want to lose to “French” people.
“The mayor and his people want to get it open just to say they got it open,” French said. “We want to get it open in a way in which as many people as possible can use it.”
Slay’s staff has scrambled to meet French’s demands. The mayor’s chief of staff, Jeff Rainford, says there is no political dispute, just the mayor working to open the center and French attacking him at each turn.
“If he wants to be impetuous and angry — that’s like a little child,” Rainford said recently of French. “He hates the mayor and is trying to make the mayor look bad in north St. Louis.”
French wants the nice new center, run by employees rather that volunteers, and offer lots of opportunity for free or low cost memberships…and a pony, which he will name Buttercup. The Mayor thinks those demands are a little high and instead would rather open the center now and see how it goes…but that’s only because he hates black people according to this angry black woman:
“It’s a black neighborhood, that’s what the problem is,” said Eliza Brown, 70, after a recent neighborhood meeting in French’s 21st Ward. “There’s nothing but black kids and black folks over here. Don’t mean nothing to (Slay). He’s not in this neighborhood. He don’t know about us. Low income, and he really don’t care. It’s just that simple.”
Not sure about that, but there is something oddly familiar about this story. Familiar enough to know there’s only one solution to a problem consisting of old guys in suits fighting over a community center: We need to get everyone in the neighborhood together and protest our corrupt politicians via a slow building street dance that will eventually get somewhere and then maybe somehow that will translate in to a situation where we raise enough money to save the community center you guys! The details are a little sketchy at this point and at least one of us should probably not dress like a jackass so we can have an adult conversation, but to say what you believe in sometimes you must fight (by “fight” we mean dance in costumes involving a lot of mesh shirts and fingerless gloves…and by “say what you believe in” we mean use that bitchin’ rec center water slide)
Ok, now who’s going to start on the costumes?! Dibs on choreography!