The Perfect Example of Why MoDOT Should Be Governed As It Is
In Missouri, we like to elect people to office and then not give them all the powers one might assume they would have. In Kansas City, the mayor is a glorified council member, while the city manager handles day-to-day operations. (Note: This is not a comment about any individual mayor, just a comment on the government structure; the same goes for my following comments.) In neither St. Louis nor Kansas City does the mayor have control over the police department, election board, school district, or judicial appointments. In St. Louis, the mayor has no control over the transit agency. Now, in some of these instances the mayors have some input — for example, both mayors serve as one of the members of the police board — but, in general, these things are run by the state-appointed boards.
Please understand, I am not saying this is automatically a bad thing. I particularly like the fact that the police in St. Louis are under the state’s control. My friends who are cops hate the idea of being controlled by 28 different aldermen, each exercising power within their respective wards. It’s much better that they report to a more independent entity — recent towing troubles aside.
This happens at the state level, too, with MoDOT being the most obvious example. The governor and legislature have little input once they select and confirm the members of the MoDOT board, which is independently funded and responsible to itself. If you want to see why this is good policy for Missouri, I shall point you to the top headlines at johncombest.com today: article after article of elected officials complaining that their cities are not getting enough from the stimulus spending. St. Louis city, St. Louis County, Jackson … they were particularly mad in Jackson:
When discussion turned to specifics, Lohr and Bollinger noted that Cape Girardeau has two projects and Jackson priorities were unfunded.
So, people who live in Jackson never drive in Cape? Will they not benefit from improvements five miles away? I am going to stop here, because I feel an episode of snippiness coming on.
In my opinion, it is far better to have an independent board making decisions based on what is good for the transportation network of the entire state than empowering politicians to fight over the funds.