January 6, 2015
Letter to the Editor,
One thing the readers of the Post-Dispatch have been able to count on throughout the years is how the editorial board would constantly attack the “revolving door” policy in Jefferson City. This revolving door involves legislators being hired as lobbyists when their term of office is completed.
But we see another revolving door right here in St. Louis. All it took for Mayor Francis Slay to push forward his agenda of removing the homeless from downtown was to put one of the editorial writers of the Post-Dispatch, Eddie Roth, on his administrative staff. I cannot help but admire Mayor Slay’s shrewd political move of not only hiring a member of the Post-Dispatch editorial staff but appointing him to be St. Louis’ director of Human Services and a member of the Board of Public Service.
Although, unlike the previous director, Mr. Roth has no experience in the social service field, his appointment is already producing positive results in the form of positive press that few legislators who are part of the revolving door policy in Jefferson City have ever experienced.
The editorial “Good neighbor policy” (Jan. 2) was written accusing me of not being a good neighbor. This accusation was based upon the fact that New Life Evangelistic Center continues to shelter at 1411 Locust Street over 300 homeless people, including veterans, women and children, the sick and elderly. It is a shame that these editorial writers can’t see that NLEC’s numbers at this facility would naturally go down if St. Louis city and St. Louis County would open walk-in emergency shelters at other locations. If St. Louis city did this, it would actually be in compliance with the consent agreement it signed Nov. 15, 1985.
A Sunshine Law request by the Post-Dispatch for the records of the housing resource hotline would reveal how city-sanctioned shelters in 2014 turned away two-thirds of the homeless who called for help. With these facts in hand, perhaps the editorial staff would not be so quick to accept Mr. Roth’s and Mayor Slay’s claims that the city will provide for the homeless if New Life stops sheltering them.
I know that if New Life Evangelistic Center does not remain true to its calling, to be a church that provides sanctuary to those who have nowhere else to sleep at night, hundreds of homeless people will be left on the streets to encounter unimaginable hardships. The police who previously brought the homeless to 1411 Locust would instead have to subject these homeless to the torture of sleep deprivation by nightly moving them out of parks and other places and by keeping them on the move all night long.
Your editorial also printed for the third time the erroneous information that New Life Evangelistic Center is presently worth $40 million to $50 million. This charge is ridiculous. If you are valuing its two main assets, KNLC TV 24 (an independent TV station with virtually no ad revenue), and the 1411 Locust building to be worth that, then you need a new appraisal. The TV station offers an alternative voice, representing those considered nuisances by commercial media interests who worship the almighty dollar.
The effectiveness of the revolving door process between the mayor’s office and the editorial staff is further evidenced byMr. Roth’s commentary “A gift to St. Louis’ homeless” (Jan. 6). Those who know the facts concerning the board’s ruling know that the shelter’s future is not up to me. The board made its determination Dec. 23 that NLEC must cut its shelter services from 300 to 32 nightly. The shelter’s future is now in the hands of the courts and caring people who will stand up against this injustice of returning the homeless to the streets.