Thomas Duda
The head of the Saint Louis Land Reutilization Authority (LRA), which owns more than 9,300 vacant city parcels, has resigned. The resignation of LRA Commissioner Howard Hayes came two weeks after the Show-Me Institute began inquiring about Hayes’ appointment, and three weeks after the institute met with LRA staff members to discuss the city’s landholding policies. The LRA’s Board of Commissioners consists of three members, one each appointed by the city's mayor, comptroller, and Board of Education.

Hayes was the longest-serving member of the LRA, having begun his service on Jan. 1, 1999, as the representative appointed by the Saint Louis Public Schools. During his tenure, the LRA’s property holdings rose from 8,729 parcels to more than 9,300 — an increase of nearly 8 percent.

The Show-Me Institute made an effort to contact each member of the LRA Commission prior to publication of the institute's initial LRA findings. Indeed, the institute contacted Saint Louis Public Schools for comment about our research multiple times, on Jan. 31, Feb. 2, and Feb. 11, and met with LRA staff members in late January.

On Feb. 14, Hayes resigned his unpaid position as a member of the LRA Commission with the following statement:
This letter is to serve as my official resignation from the Land Reutilization Authority.

It has been a unique experience that will long be remembered.

A phone call today to Saint Louis Public Schools confirmed that the Special Administrative Board will meet Thursday night, March 10. The school district’s communications director promised me that he will ask the SAB whom it intends to nominate as Hayes’ replacement.

Our yearlong study into the practices of the LRA found that the agency rejects roughly one out of every two offers to purchase vacant city property.

The Show-Me Institute will be following the selection of a new commissioner closely, because this represents an opportunity for a fresh start at the LRA. Will a new commissioner choose to sell more property? Will a new commissioner change LRA policy? We’ll keep you posted.

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