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Commentary Detail

St. Louis Lacks World Class Corruption
Commentary by: Tom Schlafly
Aired January 12, 2009

There was a time when St. Louis had a national reputation for political corruption. When Lincoln Steffens published The Shame of the Cities in 1904 he devoted two chapters to greed and graft in St. Louis. New York and Chicago only warranted one chapter apiece. Of all the cities profiled, only St. Louis was the subject of two chapters in this famous anthology of scandal.

As with so many other things, New York and Chicago have now far surpassed St. Louis when it comes to world class corruption. People all over the world know about the governor of New York, a native of New York City, who resigned in disgrace after it was revealed that he had spent
thousands of dollars on high priced call girls. Everyone knows about the Chicago politician who as governor of Illinois is accused of trying to sell a seat in the U. S. Senate to the highest bidder.

No scandal in St. Louis comes close to rivaling those of these world class cities. First of all, the last time anyone from St. Louis served as governor of Missouri was when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. Second, when it comes to scandals our governors just aren't in the same
league as those from Illinois or New York. Does anyone seriously think that deleting e-mails would raise an eyebrow in political circles in New York or Chicago?

St. Louis has fallen a long way in the past hundred years. My guess is that if Lincoln Steffens were writing his book today, we might not earn even one chapter, let alone two.

(The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. Louis Public Radio.)

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Tom Schlafly

Tom Schlafly


Tom Schlafly is an attorney in St. Louis.

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