The Nine Network Debuts Stay Tuned: A New Take on Hosting a Civic Conversation

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For those who care about St. Louis, but just couldn't quite find the appeal of DonnybrookStay Tuned, the new hour-long live television show by the Nine Network of Public Media debuted last night. The first show is focused on a broad range of civic issues impacting the St. Louis community and the first episode addressed the impact of the recent elections. State-wide races are covered, as well as local issues such as Prop A (local control of the city police) and Prop R (reducing the size of the Board of Aldermen). The show will air live and be streamed live on the Nine Network online.

I was happy to have been one of the many individuals to join the conversation via Google Hangout to discuss Prop R (segment begins at 40:30). Casey Nolen is the right person at the helm and it will be exciting to see how the format evolves. The only drawback is the time limit imposed on guests when welcoming a couple dozen commenters onto a 60 minute show. Yeah, I had more to say on Prop R! :) The show is an asset to the city and region, so tune in to Stay Tuned and check out the new conversation started by the Nine Network.

If you're interested, my rough notes for the program are below. Obviously the topic has been covered several times on this site and these stories give a fuller airing of the issue.

What we’ve allowed, told and encouraged members of the Board of Aldermen to do is “don’t worry about the city, it’s complicated, requires study and thoughtfulness; instead, just take your 1/28th of the city and worry about trash collection and downed trees. Legislation comes from outside our legislative body, from the Mayor’s office or the business community.

When the most biting criticism one Alderman can level at another is that they appear to care about the whole city, something is wrong. The less skill and vision they demand of their members, the poorer a city's civic life is likely to be. If all you expect of an alderman is close attention to garbage pickup and street repairs, of course, small wards are just fine.

Voters rejected a change in 1957 to cut the board to 15. Aldermen blocked a similar proposal by two Republican board members in 1981. A ballot initiative failed in 1983, with fewer than half of the voters approving it. In 2004, voters rejected a broad citywide overhaul pushed by some of the city's most influential firms and leaders.

Slay originally argued Young’s timing was bad. Then he said he supported her efforts. Tom Shepard, Reed’s chief of staff, said the board already is efficient, citing examples from St. Louis County. Young’s board bill passed easily this summer, 21-7, but let’s not kid ourselves, this very well may not presage any real appetite for reform in the city, and regardless, the status quo remains very powerful.

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