Despite Citizen Concerns, TIF Commission Approves $8.1 Million TIF to Laclede

Despite Citizen Concerns, TIF Commission Approves $8.1 Million TIF to Laclede

Critics Point to Out of Control Tax Breaks and the Take Back St. Louis Initiative

photo_(27).jpgST. LOUIS -- Today, the TIF Commission voted to recommend approval to the Board of Alderman on a bill to give the Koman Group$8.1 million in tax increment financing (TIF) for Laclede Gas to move three blocks downtown to 706 Market. The TIF Commission voted with 4 yeses and 1 abstention, despite many citizens testifying with concerns about the proposal. Citizens with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and the Take Back St. Louis campaign held signs and chanted when the Commission voted.

Critics pointed to the Take Back St. Louis initiative which would stop the city from giving public financial incentives to extraction companies, including Laclede, and instead redirect city development dollars towards vacant land for renewable energy and sustainability projects, as reason to delay the vote on the project. Citizens also brought up questions regarding why millionaire corporations need tax breaks, how this proposal will just leave Laclede’s existing building vacant and if this TIF would actually create any new jobs for St. Louis citizens.

“We collected 36,000 signatures for the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative because we know we can’t rely on these appointed boards to ask tough questions. Today the TIF Commission proved us right. We will continue to fight this proposed TIF for Laclede because we know that thousands want a chance to vote on the direction of development dollar spending for the city. We believe our city should prioritize green job creation, money for the school and making this city work for the people who live here, instead of caving to the scare tactics of millionaire corporations,” said Reginald Rounds of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), who collected thousands of signatures for the Take Back St. Louis campaign.

MORE and the Take Back St. Louis campaign will take their concerns to the Board of Alderman, where a bill is expected to be introduced in mid-November. On November 13, the Take Back St. Louis ballot initiative will be sent to the Board of Elections to be given an election date.

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Take Back St. Louis and MORE Demand Laclede Rescind Request for $8 Million TIF

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 28, 2013

Take Back St. Louis and MORE Demand Laclede Rescind Request for $8 Million TIF

Group Puts Pressure on Laclede and TIF Commissioners Ahead of Wednesday TIF Meeting

CR-DSC_0041.jpgST. LOUIS -- Today, a group of St. Louis citizens with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) and the Take Back St. Louis campaign gathered downtown to deliver a letter to Laclede Gas, asking the company to rescind its developer’s application for an $8 million TIF (tax increment financing) package to move three blocks downtown. The group presented Laclede with a large gas bill, illustrating the company’s $62 million in profit last year and chanted “we want our city green and healthy, no more tax breaks for the wealthy.” Police blocked all doors to the building and refused to take a letter to Laclede CEO Suzanne Sitherwood. The group also delivered letters to TIF Commissioners, urging them to vote down Laclede’s developer’s proposal at Wednesday’s TIF Commission hearing.

“Many of us worked for months to collect 36,000 signatures for the Take Back St. Louis initiative, which would stop this tax package for Laclede. 36,000 people think that we should vote on how the city does development. The TIF Commission and Laclede should delay any conversations about this $8 million TIF until the people get to vote,” said Reginald Rounds, a member of MORE.

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'Take Back St. Louis': A New Direct Action Front Targeting Big Coal's Tax Breaks

St. Louis is about to have a vote to decide the future of Big Coal in the city. Just days ago, the St. Louis Board of Elections verified that the Take Back St. Louis Ballot Initiative had 960 signatures more than necessary, thereby guaranteeing its spot on the ballot. In other words, residents of St. Louis think that continued tax breaks to coal corporations should be brought to the ballot. In the battle against coal and other extractive industries, we are opening up a new front in which we directly target the subsidization of their corporate headquarters and subsequently, their profits.

Acting fearlessly, groups across the country seeking to curb climate calamity have intensified action against extraction sites, pipeline routes, power plants, refineries, and corporate targets. As fossil fuel corporations continue business as usual, the stakes in the climate crisis rise; groups have escalated their tactics in order to demand a change.

Meanwhile, in the land of coal corporate headquarters, corporations like Peabody Coal take public money in a “race to the bottom” which gives corporations control over our tax dollars. Over the past decade, the city of St. Louis has given “aggressive incentives” to private-sector corporations, while fundamental services in the city remain in critical condition.

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Lessons in Organizing with MORE

A blog post by Fossil Free Fellow, Connor McFarland, crossposted from Go Fossil Free

This summer I’ve been working in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri, at a community organizing group calledMissourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE).  MORE organizes in working class communities in St. Louis around environmental and economic issues.  Using direct action and community organizing, we fight corporate power to build the world we want to live in.

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Green Jobs and Climate Justice

A blog post by Fossil Free Fellow, Ben Ishibashi, crossposted from Go Fossil Free

As an environmentalist committed to  climate justice, I’ve always strongly supported the idea of ‘green jobs.’ But I don’t think I ever thought about what goes into a green job before I began working with green workers here in St. Louis. I associated ‘green’ with safe and clean. I assumed that so-called ‘green’ employers understood and valued their workers’ contributions to the building of a better world. I thought that investing in green jobs training would, on its own, lead to a plethora of well paying, long-term jobs for a new wave of green collar workers.

Since beginning my fellowship in St Louis, I’ve learned how radically naïve such thinking is. I’ve met workers at electronic recycling plants here who are forced to work with uncontained, poison-leaking batteries in mildewed or asbestos-ridden facilities, all without health benefits or even a working indoor bathroom. I’ve learned that glass recycling workers are denied safety gear that would prevent them from inhaling millions of tiny glass shards as they work, and develop respiratory problems that their benefits don’t cover. In every sector of the green economy here, I’ve met workers who have to work two, or even three jobs just to make it by.

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100 Stories of What Wall Street Broke: MORE Member Annie

Crossposted from 100 Stories of What Wall Street Broke at the Home Defenders League

Annie is one of the Covington Seven who are facing prosecution from the Department of Justice for protesting the revolving door between Wall Street and government. Stand with the Covington Seven by signing the petition or donating to help cover the costs of traveling back to DC for their court date.In late 2007 business started to taper off for my painting company. I wasn’t really worried until the following year when things started to fall apart faster due to the financial crash. At this point, I was still able to pay my mortgage on time.By 2009 there was a sharp fall in my business. It became harder and harder for me to keep up with my bills and I missed a couple of mortgage payments. I was still able to hold on and catch up but it was turning into a real struggle for me.By 2010, my business was a a stand still. I started getting foreclosure threats from US Bank. The bank was giving me conflicting and false information and I started to reach out to housing counselors. In 2011, I had my first contact with the St. Louis group MORE. At this stage, I had managed to avoid several sale dates. MORE gave me the moral support that I need to continue my fight for my house. Working with them, we were able to keep postpone for a long time. This strategy of postponement proved to be a crucial component of me keeping me house.After a good fight, US Bank finally foreclosed on me and put my house on the market. I stood strong and refused to give in or to leave my home. The house remained on the market all year but the price kept dropping.Finally, in late 2012, a long time family friend and real estate agent saw my house on the US Bank website for an extremely low price. In an amazing display of kindness, she bought the house and returned it to me. Stalling worked as a tactic because it allowed time for the price of the house to drop low enough to make saving it possible. I know I would have lost the house without the support of MORE.

Annie is one of the Covington Seven who are facing prosecution from the Department of Justice for protesting the revolving door between Wall Street and government. Stand with the Covington Seven by signing the petition or donating to help cover the costs of traveling back to DC for their court date.

In late 2007 business started to taper off for my painting company. I wasn’t really worried until the following year when things started to fall apart faster due to the financial crash. At this point, I was still able to pay my mortgage on time.

By 2009 there was a sharp fall in my business. It became harder and harder for me to keep up with my bills and I missed a couple of mortgage payments. I was still able to hold on and catch up but it was turning into a real struggle for me.

By 2010, my business was a a stand still. I started getting foreclosure threats from US Bank. The bank was giving me conflicting and false information and I started to reach out to housing counselors. 

In 2011, I had my first contact with the St. Louis group MORE. At this stage, I had managed to avoid several sale dates. MORE gave me the moral support that I need to continue my fight for my house. Working with them, we were able to keep postpone for a long time. This strategy of postponement proved to be a crucial component of me keeping me house.

After a good fight, US Bank finally foreclosed on me and put my house on the market. I stood strong and refused to give in or to leave my home. The house remained on the market all year but the price kept dropping.

Finally, in late 2012, a long time family friend and real estate agent saw my house on the US Bank website for an extremely low price. In an amazing display of kindness, she bought the house and returned it to me. Stalling worked as a tactic because it allowed time for the price of the house to drop low enough to make saving it possible. I know I would have lost the house without the support of MORE.

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100 Stories of What Wall Street Broke: MORE Member Deborah

Crossposted from 100 Stories of What Wall Street Broke at the Home Defenders League

Deborah is one of the Covington Seven who are facing prosecution from the Department of Justice for protesting the revolving door between Wall Street and government. Stand with the Covington Seven by signing the petition or donating to help cover the costs of traveling back to DC for their court date.My name is Deborah C. and my home was foreclosed and sold by U. S. Bank and Fannie Mae during the loan modification process of my application.  Genworth Financial approved us for a loan modification and forwarded the package to U.S. Bank. After many calls a package arrived with instructions and forms to complete and submit. However the bank continued to claim non receipt of documents after several re-faxing of them. The paperwork was not processed and my home was sold.  I sued US Bank, Fannie Mae and Genworth for unlawful foreclosure and while in court I lost the right to remain in the home until our March 2013 court date. Fannie Mae obtained a $14,000 unlawful occupancy settlement and a counter was submitted for the removal of the judgement and negative marks from credit in lieu of home. The settlement has since been changed and not agreeable to both parties. I am asking of Fannie Mae to allow me to pay for my home at the cost of the second lien. I have been employed for over 31 years and currently making $57,000 plus a year. I would like to have my home back at the cost of the second note. My understanding from my neighbors is the home has been vandalized since being vacated.

Deborah is one of the Covington Seven who are facing prosecution from the Department of Justice for protesting the revolving door between Wall Street and government. Stand with the Covington Seven by signing the petition or donating to help cover the costs of traveling back to DC for their court date.

My name is Deborah C. and my home was foreclosed and sold by U. S. Bank and Fannie Mae during the loan modification process of my application. 

Genworth Financial approved us for a loan modification and forwarded the package to U.S. Bank. After many calls a package arrived with instructions and forms to complete and submit.

However the bank continued to claim non receipt of documents after several re-faxing of them. The paperwork was not processed and my home was sold. 

I sued US Bank, Fannie Mae and Genworth for unlawful foreclosure and while in court I lost the right to remain in the home until our March 2013 court date.

Fannie Mae obtained a $14,000 unlawful occupancy settlement and a counter was submitted for the removal of the judgement and negative marks from credit in lieu of home. The settlement has since been changed and not agreeable to both parties.

I am asking of Fannie Mae to allow me to pay for my home at the cost of the second lien. I have been employed for over 31 years and currently making $57,000 plus a year. I would like to have my home back at the cost of the second note. My understanding from my neighbors is the home has been vandalized since being vacated.

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3 Arrested at Peabody Shareholder Meeting in Gillette, WY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 29, 2013

Contact: Arielle Klagsbrun, MORE, arielle@organizemo.org

3 Arrested at Peabody Shareholder Meeting in Gillette, WY

Groups from Wyoming, Black Mesa, St. Louis and Colorado Join Together to Confront World’s Largest Coal Company

GILLETTE, WY-- Peabody Energy shareholders affiliated with Powder River Basin Resource Council, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), CO-FORCE (Coloradans for Fair Rates and Clean Energy), and Forgotten People from Black Mesa/Big Mountain in Arizona converged in Gillette, Wyoming, on Monday, April 29, 2013, at Peabody’s Annual General Meeting. Peabody has always held its meeting near its headquarters in St. Louis, but moved it this year to avoid public scrutiny. After the meeting, an activist affiliated with MORE was arrested dropping a banner saying, “Peabody Attacks: Pensions, Diné Lands, Climate.” 2 other activists were arrested taking a picture in solidarity with the United Mine Workers of America. Many shareholders were held in an "overflow room," where they watched the meeting on a screen, though reports say, there were many open seats in the main room.

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Video, photos, Peabody 12 free, 1 from Arch still behind bars

All 12 arrestees from Jan. 26 #StopPeabody action have been released from jail! However, one activist is still in jail after his Jan. 22 arrest at Arch Coal's headquarters.

Please consider a contribution to the Legal Defense Fund to support these great folks and David.

Yesterday was an amazing coming together of East and West, Native people and non-Native supporters, to confront Peabody Energy's trail of destruction and despair. The national anti-extraction movement continues to grow. Here's a collection of videos and photos from the two MORE-RAMPS-BMIS Winter Action Camp actions, and the letter from Black Mesa to Peabody:


Video from StopPeabody action.
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Navajo, Appalachians, Veterans, and St. Louis Residents Confront Peabody Coal

ST. LOUIS, MO — About one hundred of protesters are gathered in downtown St. Louis today outside of the Peabody Coal corporate headquarters. St. Louis locals were joined by Navajo residents from Black Mesa, Ariz., Appalachians from coal-burdened West Virginia, and supporters from across the United States to demand the cessation of strip mining and accountability for land and people.  Navajo residents of Black Mesa, Don Yellowman and Fern Benally demanded to speak with Peabody CEO Greg H. Boyce and deliver a letter detailing their concerns.   (Read it here.)  Twelve protesters were arrested for linking arms and refusing to leave Peabody property when Boyce refused to meet with Navajo representatives.  Protesters included representatives from Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, Black Mesa Indigenous Support, Veterans for Peace, SEIU and other labor unions.   Activists dropped from two nearby buildings reading, “Stop the War on Mother Earth.  Peabody: Bad for St. Louis, Bad for the Planet” and “Peabody Kills.”

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