Once again, St. Louis is in the headlines for corruption. It’s so common now, that we might be tempted to see it as just another move in the game of who gets to be in office and who doesn’t. Steering public funding toward friends and allies is more than an abstract betrayal of the public trust, it takes resources that should have been used to help our neighbors in greatest need and diverts it to the very people who need it the least. Trust me, there is plenty of need.
I mentioned before how difficult it was to find where the CARES Act money was when neighbor after neighbor called us asking for help with food, paying the rent, and keeping the lights on. By January of 2021 the money was all but exhausted, but people were still frantically calling 7 or 8 different places because there was no transparency on who got the funding, when, why and how much, or if anyone can help at least one more family secure in their home before the eviction moratorium was to expire just a few months later. While we’ve repeatedly called COVID “over” many times already, it’s spreading as quickly as ever, and in addition to the people who would never recover from the virus, still more have not seen the supposed economic recovery many elected officials insist is here. I think recent events give a hint at how trustworthy that word is.
While we still don’t know exactly how more than half of ARPA is being spent, what appears to be the process of spending it is not inspiring a lot of confidence. Not one more dollar should be spent unless we see a process for doing so transparently and not simply based on whether the grantee knows someone in an elected official’s office. It’s unjust enough that so much public policy is directed exclusively by those who own property or businesses, getting a personal deal out of it adds further insult.
Finally, I must address something because even though this is not the focus of my role specifically, the dehumanizing sentiment about LGBT people, and trans women especially cannot go unchallenged. This is not about hurt feelings. It’s about having the full social rights that everyone else takes for granted, and it’s about taking an unequivocal stance against the incitement of violence against trans women in particular. Just this weekend, a crowd shouting about “groomers” threatened a gay bar in Dallas. I don’t trust the same police officers who deliberately misgender my sister to protect her from that violence, or even not to be a participant in it. It’s our responsibility because we keep us safe, and no one is going to do it for us.