Less than two weeks into my first legislative session in 1991, I was invited to the second floor in the Capitol for discussion with staff from Gov. Ashcroft's office regarding the archaic Missouri State Penitentiary. The 155-year-old facility at the time had already been extended beyond its usefulness by decades and the safety of those employed was at great risk, not to mention the exorbitant cost of operations by standards back then.
The community forever needs to be grateful to Gov. Carnahan for his efforts to permit Jefferson City the opportunity to relocate JCCC in the immediate trade area without opening up the process to bid and competition from other communities.
For 20 years I had the privilege and opportunity to sit in on discussions concerning the property now referred to as the MSP site. In January of every year, five administrations, three Democrats and two Republicans, all expressed their intentions to support this project to maximize the potential to both the area and the state. By the time May arrived, tempers were short, budgets were tight, needs were great, spending was prioritized and MSP redevelopment always seemed to fall by the wayside and take a back seat in the appropriation process through no fault of anyone.
Rep. Bill Gratz worked diligently and tirelessly as he handled the enabling legislation which was eventually passed and signed into law to arrive at where we are today with the MSP Redevelopment Commission. If we sit back and do nothing and wait for the General Assembly to appropriate the necessary funds to stop deterioration and gross negligence of this priceless site, the damage will be irreparable. This property currently garners the attention and support by local House members and maybe a handful of senators at best. My experience tells me the majority of the remaining members of the Legislature don't even care about the location much less feel the urge to fund badly needed maintenance and repairs to some of these historic buildings.
Transformation affords this community the opportunity to show members of the General Assembly our willingness to come to the table and begin the evolving process of the un limited opportunities which are possible now and in the future.
I too have questions and concerns about some of the projects on the laundry list. But in the bigger picture, the positive clearly outweighs the negative and I encourage your support for Transformation on Tuesday.