KC Pitch Blurb About St. Louis Offers Insights to Government Structure
Today’s Kansas City Pitch has a short story on a new Brookings Institution study that places modern American cities into various categories. According to the study, Kansas City and St. Louis are different types of cities, which is not surprising to anyone who has spent much time in both. Speaking for myself, I get a different urban feel in Kansas City than I do when home here in St. Louis. It’s not better or worse, and I doubt I could define it much further, but I definitely sense it. But this really isn’t the point of my post.
As soon as I read the list of cities to which St. Louis is judged as being similar, the issue of government structure jumped out at me:
St. Louis fell in the “Skilled Anchor” category. These cities are typified by slower growth, lower diversity and higher educational attainment. Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Akron and New Haven are other Skilled Anchors.
Which two American cities have a metropolitan government structure most like St. Louis? Baltimore and Pittsburgh, and I doubt anyone would dispute that. Baltimore is also an independent city-not-within-a-county, like St. Louis, and the metropolitan Pittsburgh and St. Louis areas are the two most fragmented in the country (as defined by government units per capita). Both of these cities, especially Pittsburgh, were covered in detail by my “Government in Missouri” policy study. (For the fragmentation info, check out Table 9 on p. 29, and read endnote 23.)
I am not trying to draw any causation here, or even really any correlation. It may be just coincidence that St. Louis, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh are all judged as similar cities by the measures of the Brookings Institution. But then again, perhaps the similar government structures have resulted from how the three communities have adapted to various changes over time, now bringing them into similar circumstances.