A Better St. Louis. Powered by Journalism.
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Print
  • Email

Proposed charter amendment aimed at Peabody may be headed to court

In Backroom

12:35 am on Thu, 08.01.13

A legal fight appears imminent now that MORE, a regional activist group that’s that has been protesting Peabody Energy’s activities for months, has turned in its initiative petitions for a proposed  St. Louis charter amendment directed at Peabody or any other firm involved in "unsustainable energy production."

Right after the petitions were submitted Wednesday, the St. Louis Election Board was hit with a Sunshine Law request from the law firm of Stinson Morrison and Hecker for copies of the 4,321 pages of signatures contained on the petitions.

The firm also asked for documentation of the procedures used by the Election Board to verify the signatures and a list of previous charter amendment proposals.

One of the firm’s lawyers, Jane Dueker, said in an interview, “We’re representing individuals and companies who are opposed to the destruction of the economic environment of the city of St. Louis.” 

She declined to identify the clients but indicated that legal action was expected.

MORE, which stands for Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, says it turned in more than 36,000 signatures from registered city voters.  The group needs certified signatures from at least 22,000 to get their proposal on the ballot early next year.

The proposed charter amendment would bar any city aid or tax breaks to any firm that deals in “unsustainable energy production.’’

The proposal doesn’t mention a particular firm, but MORE representatives have said their chief target is Peabody Energy – the world’s largest coal company, which is headquartered downtown.

The amendment also would appear to affect any company dealing in fossil fuels and, according to its wording, “anyone that does $1 million of business with them per year."

Other provisions also would mandate that the city set up “a sustainable energy plan that includes public money for renewable energy and sustainability projects and opens up city-held land for related projects.”

Mayor Francis Slay’s staff has criticized the proposed amendment, saying it would destroy businesses and jobs in the city.

Gary Stoff, the Election Board’s Republican elections director, said its staff has three days to provide an initial response to the law firm. The board has more time to collect and turn over the information sought.

But in the case of the petitions, the board has only 10 days to review, verify or reject the signatures.

Stoff said that the city charter also will first give the Board of Aldermen 60 days to decide whether it wants to support the proposal – which then would preclude a citywide vote. The board’s rejection would automatically put the proposal on the ballot, if other charter-amendment requirements are met.

Dueker reaffirmed her earlier assertion that the initiative petition proposal is likely illegal, and that the Election Board should reject the signatures outright. “This thing has serious legal problems,” she said.

MORE disagrees. Wednesday night, the group issued a statement from Arif Haque, a lawyer who helped draft the initiative.

Haque contended that the amendment would not affect large energy purchasers, such as major businesses, that do business with Peabody or other affected companies.

"This ballot initiative was specifically crafted in anticipation of the question of whether it would apply to businesses that buy large quantities of electricity and gasoline, but do not otherwise do business with unsustainable energy producers,” Haque said.

“The initiative would not target such businesses. This initiative is about reallocating resources to create a new, local, green economy in St. Louis -- not punishing people for buying power.”

He added, “The definition of ‘Public Financial Incentives’ (in the proposal) came from research on how the city defined various incentive programs on their website and in the city charter. The ballot initiative deals with incentives, which are perquisites not offered to all members of the public.”

No Comments

Join The Beacon

When you register with the Beacon, you can save your searches as news alerts, rsvp for events, manage your donations and receive news and updates from the Beacon team.

Register Now

Already a Member

Getting around the new site

Take a look at our tutorials to help you get the hang of the new site.

Most Discussed Articles By Beacon Members

Conference of American nuns will mull response to Vatican charges

In Nation

7:55 am on Fri, 08.03.12

Meeting in St. Louis next week, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious will have its first opportunity as an assembled group to consider what to do after the Vatican issued a mandate for change this spring. It calls on the conference to reorganize and more strictly observe church teachings.

The 'free' Zoo

In Commentary

7:51 am on Tue, 05.22.12

When a family of four goes to the St. Louis Zoo, they can be forgiven for not knowing it will cost them $60, $72 if they park. If they can't pay, the alternative is to tell the kids they can't do what kids do at the zoo.

Featured Articles

House sends Boeing incentive bill to Nixon

In Economy

12:55 pm on Fri, 12.06.13

The Missouri House easily passed legislation aimed at attracting production of the 777x, a move that wraps up a legislative special session that saw little suspense and few surprises. The bill now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, who has strongly supported the legislation.

Gandhi inspired Mandela on South Africa's 'Long Road to Freedom'

In World

10:10 am on Fri, 12.06.13

Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at the age of 95, was a towering moral figure of the 20th century -- along with Mahatma Gandhi. It was no coincidence that Gandhi and Mandela, whose paths never crossed directly, both embarked on their campaigns against discrimination in South Africa. It was when Mandela won election as South Africa’s first black president that Gandhi's influence became apparent.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Encore: Dead before death

In Performing Arts

12:58 am on Fri, 12.06.13

For years , the author was certain he would never come to appreciate The Grateful Dead, let alone be a Deadhead. But little by little, he's come around. He talks about his conversion and relates a real evolution: by a musician who went on to play with the Schwag, a Dead cover band.

Featured Articles

Schlichter honored with St. Louis Award

In Region

4:57 pm on Tue, 12.03.13

The attorney has founded Arch Grants, which brings together nonprofit philanthropy and commercially viable opportunitiesto fund new business startups, and Mentor St. Louis, which finds adult mentors for elementary students in the St. Louis Public School System. He was the driving force behind the state's historic tax credit program.

BioGenerator sets open house to celebrate new digs for entrepreneurs-in-residence

In InnovationSTL

12:29 pm on Tue, 11.12.13

BioSTL's BioGenerator organization is on the move as its entrepreneurs-in-residence find a new home in 4,300 square feet of office and conference space in an old automobile factory. The blossoming program, which helps BioGenerator's portfolio companies to get off the ground, continues to pay dividends within the growing biotech community.

Ambassadors aim to soften rough landing for St. Louis immigrants

In InnovationSTL

6:34 am on Fri, 11.08.13

The St. Louis Mosaic Project is set to hold an orientation for its new ambassadors -- dozens of foreign and native-born volunteers who aim to help make the community a more welcoming place for those from other nations. Participants will be expected to do everything from visiting local restaurants serving international cuisine to having dinner with an immigrant to the area.

Recent Articles

More Articles

Innovation and entrepreneurial activity are on the rise in St. Louis, especially in bioscience, technology and alternative energy. The Beacon's InnovationSTL section focuses on the people who are part of this wave, what they're doing and how this is shaping our future. To many St. Louisans, this wave is not yet visible. InnovationSTL aims to change that. We welcome you to share your knowledge, learn more about this vibrant trend and discuss its impact.

Featured Articles

Regina Carter brings jazz and therapy to Children's Hospital

6:36 am on Mon, 12.09.13

One night, the violinist is taking bows before a standing ovation at Jazz at the Bistro. The next afternoon, some of her audience may have trouble standing, but the kids in the playroom at Children's Hospital were no less appreciative. “Jazz is medicine personified," according to a doctor who brings in the jazz musicians.

Featured Articles

Featured Events:

Upcoming Events

View Full Calendar

More About The Beacon Home