For the past two days I've been covering the ongoing northside redevelopment plan. We interviewed a local woman named Bonzella Smith, she's filed a lawsuit against the TIF board here in St. Louis. Smith has some legitimate concerns about Paul McKee's proposed redevelopment, and she doesn't want to lose her home through eminent domain. Paul McKee has said he will not use eminent domain to force homeowners out.
I asked Smith why she decided to sue the TIF board, afterall she hasn't been forced out of her home. Smith told me the lawsuit wasn't her idea, instead a lawyer named D.B. Amon contacted her to set up an appointment, and things unfolded from there. I went to Amon's office on Monday, but he declined to comment. We also called Amon, he would not comment. Today, we went back to Amon's office to ask him why he filed the lawsuit on Smith's behalf - he would not answer the question. Instead Amon told me I needed to make an appointment, so I drove back to the station, called Amon, and made an appointment for Thursday afternoon. I'm hoping he will explain his side of the story. I can understand the concerns of homeowners, but even Smith told me her neighborhood needs help, and she wants to see it fixed up. It's going to be hard for anyone to fix north St. Louis if people keep filing lawsuits. Smith says she would have sued on her own, if someone threatened to take her home, but clearly this lawsuit was not her idea.
I also talked to Irene Smith today. Smith is a former mayoral candidate, she's also a former alderwoman. Smith has filed a lawsuit in Cole County (Jefferson City). She is challenging a piece of the projects financing, specifically state tax credits that would be awarded for the project. Smith told me the lawsuit will likely be amended later this week.
I'm sure these won't be the last lawsuits, and I realize everyone has a different stake in this project - it's our job to figure out what that stake is, and exactly why some of these lawyers are so motivated to stop the project. We also want another chance to interview Paul Mckee, we might see him on Friday at city hall. It sounds like Mckee's proposal will be formally introduced to the board. Stay tuned