Episode 6: Jeff Rainford – The Future Great City podcast by nextSTL

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It’s nextSTL.com in a podcast! In this episode we speak with Jeff Rainford, an independent public policy consultant who is best known for his 14 years as chief of staff to four-term City of St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.

Described by friends and foes alike as fierce and effective, he was instrumental in returning control of the city’s police department to the city for the first time since the Civil War. He was also the city’s point person on the ultimately unsuccessful effort to keep the NFL Rams in St. Louis, and worked hard on keeping the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency in the city. St. Louis will find April 1 if that effort is successful.

Rainford is a native St. Louisan, growing up in Webster Groves. He worked as reporter for KMOX radio and KMOV-TV before joining the mayor’s staff.

*audio was set incorrectly for this recording – thanks for listening to a little echo

[Future Great City podcast on iTunes]

[Podcast RSS feed from nextSTL]

[The nextSTL podcast page]

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  • Ben Harris

    If you want to solve the problems of St. Louis City – a coalition of mayors across all cities in the United States need to push for reparations in the form of a universal basic income. Everyone is going to need a UBI eventually, a trial run would be a smart start. Trudeau just announced that Ontario would be testing out an UBI, a lot of Scandinavian countries are beginning to test it out as well. That is our best chance at stabilizing north city with some immediacy.

    And the NFL will be back in St. Louis before 20 years is out, trade will eventually give way to tourism.

    • Chicagoan

      UBI just isn’t a rational idea at this moment. Ontario is trying out UBI b/c it’s an incredibly progressive place. If Scandinavia is doing something, you can bet a lot of people in the United States (uh, conservative people) won’t like it.

      • Ben Harris

        it isn’t rational, how exactly? Do we have to wait for riots from master degree holding uber drivers when driverless cars roll out in 5 years?

        • Chicagoan

          The United States just isn’t that progressive, yet. Can you imagine the Republican Party’s response to that? A portion of the Democratic Party wouldn’t like it, either.

          • Ben Harris

            UBI can appeal to both sides of the aisle if with it the republicans can shrink government or cut some programs all together. You’re right, the USA isn’t progressive it’s reactive and will only deal with this solution when it absolutely has to.

            That doesn’t mean however that we shouldn’t push for it now. A strong coalition of urban mayors in the largest cities pushing for reparations via a UBI program would send waves across the country.

            The money would be invested in those communities and neighborhoods immediately, not tied up in offshore banking. I don’t think it’s that radical. Automation is going to cut through jobs like a cane field in a high wind and we need to be prepared for it. *bangs fist on table*

  • Mitch Boggeman

    Please change the intro song.. So bad.

    • Chicagoan

      I think it’s fun.

  • STLEnginerd

    Impressed by Jeff Rainford interview. I expected a lot of spin, but the interview was very forthright.

    • Chicagoan

      Agreed, I think this has been my favorite podcast so far.

  • Chicagoan

    Regarding Mr. Rainford’s comments on segregation, research shows that the more diverse a city is, the more segregated a city is as a result. The Brookings Institution recently released a list of the most segregated cities in the United States. Milwaukee was first, New York was second, and Chicago was third. New York and Chicago are incredibly diverse, yet according to the Brookings Institution, they’re incredibly segregated. As said, Portland doesn’t struggle with segregation, but it’s b/c the city is quite homogeneous.

    Due to a variety of factors, segregation seems to intimately follow segregation, as things stand.

    Also, regarding Mr. Rainford’s comments on people in Wrigleyville not really caring about events in Hyde Park, I don’t think that people just “don’t care”. Hyde Park is well over 10 miles from Wrigleyville, likely closer to 15 miles. Those who come off as apathetic likely just don’t know what’s happening as the two are quite far apart. To be honest, Hyde Park is a bad example, as well. I think it’s nicer than Wrigleyville.

  • matimal

    The fall of north county isn’t just another sign of failure. It actually provides an opportunity for the city by taking some of the pressure of crime and poverty off of the city and allowing it to reallocate resources toward those places and things that will produce income and increase property values in the future. IT may not be the way St. Louis’ great and good want St. Louis to improve, but it is its best bet. Any responses…?

    • Alex Ihnen

      You’ve made this argument elsewhere…can it be summarized fairly as saying an economically deteriorating north county could be good for the city by becoming a place of crime and poverty, therefore perhaps moving crime and poverty outside the city limits?

      I’ve made a tangental point before – that St. Louis City suffers in ways other cities do not because regional crime and poverty are concentrated within the city limits. That said, the idea that (and this isn’t exactly what you’re saying) the city should cheer for a worse north county, seems…really wrong.

      • matimal

        I think it’s already happening. I don’t cheer it, but I accept it. Without doing so, I can’t explain the rise in central corridor investment in recent years. Right or wrong is beside the point.

        • Alex Ihnen

          I’d add that in some places (perhaps Boston, D.C., etc.), poorer residents (and perhaps crime & poverty) are being forced out by wealthier residents. Here, people of any means are leaving and taking the place of people with slight more means who were able to move further away. The near-complete abandonment of parts of the city is much, much different than NYC and many (most) other places. So I don’t believe the Central Corridor of STL is seeing investment *because north county is failing, or that poverty and crime is moving out of the city. The numbers for both remain staggering.

          • matimal

            They are staggering, but I still see it as a matter of degrees rather than one of kind. I don’t see how St. Louis can somehow operate on fundamentally different forces than other cities. A human being and a lizard still operate on the same biological processes as different as they look.

        • John R

          The rise in central corridor investment in recent years has (almost) everything to do with people wanting to be there… it’s been happening to central and eds/meds cores across the country.

          What isn’t happening here, unlike in hotter cities, is any kind of significant investment flowing into poor neighborhoods outside the central corridor. Many, if not most of these communities continue to deteriorate. The resulting cheap land does provide the opportunity to move these areas into a more positive direction with a smart strategy, but to date we really haven’t seen that. And I don’t see how North County “failing” will somehow make it easier for our disinvested areas to succeed.

          • matimal

            I don’t think human desire alone explains anything. The central corridor isn’t deteriorating. The land had been cheap for a long time. What’s changed is that there is a growing distance between the geographic focus of crime and the central corridor. The geographic distribution of criminal activity has been slowly shifting forward for years. At some point, investors say, “now we can take advantage of the cheap land (and tax credits, etc.) to put together a profitable deal. The land prices didn’t change, the crime and disorder changed.

          • Riggle

            Have you ever heard if Soulard, Lafayette Square, Benton Park, Fox Park, Cherokee St, Tower Grove East, Tower Grove South, Shaw, FPSE or Botanical Heights?

          • John R

            of course, I live in one of those. The only two of those neighborhoods that I consider “poor” (probably not the best term) are FPSE and McRee Town and both of those are considered Central Corridor neighborhoods. Some of the rest may not be “wealthy” but none (with the possible exception of Cherokee Street) reached the level of disinvestment and abandonment that I have in mind for when I say “poor.”

          • Riggle

            My point was those are the nabes outside the central corridor seeying investment. Not sure where you get that botan heights nee mcree town is in the central corridor, fpse is arguable, but you are probably right.