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Step up to fix East St. Louis

St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly last week said aloud what local residents already instinctively know: East St. Louis is a drag on the area’s economy, the Achilles heel of the metro-east. It’s difficult to get developers and new businesses interested in locating in Madison or St. Clair County when one of the area’s main cities is a “felony factory” with a murder rate four times that of Chicago’s.

Kelly said the crime problems are a result of “40 years of bad decisions.” Bad decisions by bad characters equal bad results. That’s not just bad decisions by people within the city, but also at the St. Clair County and state levels. The list includes poorly performing schools, ineffective grant programs, expensive duplication of services, cronyism and corruption. They collaborated, through what they did and what they failed to do, to keep East St. Louis residents dependent on government and to distort the truth.

The election results from November illustrate how bad decisions continue on. The politicians who have failed East St. Louis still get 90 percent or more of the votes – a big enough margin that a candidate can be winning in the rest of the county but still lose when the East St. Louis vote is added.

Kelly and his office have dramatically increased criminal prosecutions, which must be a godsend to the law-abiding residents of the community. Now other leaders and individuals, also, need to step up if East St. Louis and the region are going to grow.