Post-Dispatch reporter Jake Wagman reports today on Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s extensive travels to St. Louis.
Of note is how many times the Republican statewide official received taxpayer-reimbursement for staying in hotels:
The state’s No. 2 official, who has a home in Cape Girardeau and an office in Jefferson City, has grown accustomed to staying at luxury hotels in St. Louis - and letting taxpayers pick up the tab.
Since 2006, Kinder has billed the state for an average of more than two months per year at hotels in the St. Louis area.
Even with a discounted government rate, Kinder has charged taxpayers a total of $35,050 for at least 329 nights at hotels in St. Louis and St. Louis County during that time period. That includes 236 nights at the Chase and 42 nights at the downtown Four Seasons, his most frequented hotels.
The price tag doesn’t include the cost of meals on those trips or the hotel and meal cost for dozens of trips elsewhere in the state that Kinder has taken at taxpayer expense.
Talk of unifying St. Louis City with St. Louis County has increased over the past few months, especially when St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay publicly broached the issue.
Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen. But at least one state senator - Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City - wants voters to decide whether STL City should merge. From the St. Louis Beacon:
“Whether you live in the city or the county, we are all residents of this great metropolis called St. Louis,” said Chappelle-Nadal, who resides in University City. “It is time we started looking as issues that are important to us with a regional focus, rather than continuing the ‘us versus them’ mentality that has stymied progress in our region for far too long.”
She reaffirmed the longstanding claim that allowing the city to re-enter the county would “save millions of dollars by consolidating the administrative functions of the city and the county.”
Those savings would be particular significant for St. Louis, since re-entry would presumably mean the elimination of more than a half-dozen of the city’s “county offices” — such as recorder of deeds and collector of revenue — that are necessary because the city is its own county.
Worth noting is this Tweet from St. Louis City Alderman Antonio French: “I don’t think the majority of people of the City of St. Louis are excited about becoming the 92nd municipality in St. Louis County.”