Editorials

Fix spy mapping decision before taxpayers, military pay dearly

Spy mapping belongs next to Scott Air Force Base

St. Louis is tied up in legalities and a scandal at the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency construction site. The fix? Put the spy mapping agency next to Scott Air Force Base, where it was intended to go.
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St. Louis is tied up in legalities and a scandal at the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency construction site. The fix? Put the spy mapping agency next to Scott Air Force Base, where it was intended to go.

Cheaters shouldn’t win, and the folks in St. Louis cheated when they told the federal government that they locked down the 99 acres for the new National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

And they cheated by misleading the Obama Administration that impoverished, crime-ridden north St. Louis was ready for a renaissance. In reality, developer Paul McKee was locking up 1,500 acres of properties using claims and promises and money that Missouri’s attorney general is now investigating as possible fraud.

And they cheated by saying the 33 acres next door where the old Pruitt-Igoe public housing was razed had been tested for environmental contamination such as radiation, asbestos and who knows what else.

For those and other reasons, U.S. Rep. Mike Bost just called on NGA Director Robert Cardillo to halt construction in St. Louis.

“I believe the concerns raised more than justify a reconsideration of the decision to make north St. Louis home of the new NGA-West campus,” Bost wrote to Cardillo this week. “I again urge you to restrict the use of any federally-appropriated funds on the new NGA-West campus until the full scope of Mr. McKee’s alleged crimes are understood, including any impact they may have had on St. Clair County receiving fair consideration during the site selection process.”

NGA spokeswoman Nancy M. Rapavi responded by saying they were committed to the north St. Louis site.

“Following a review of mission needs, security, cost, environmental analysis, schedule implications, laws, policy, regulations, and executive orders, NGA decided the St. Louis City site is the right choice for its future and the policymakers, warfighters and first responders that depend on the agency’s services.”

Fair consideration had nothing to do with St. Louis getting the NGA. Military mission, economics, future growth, transportation, security and workforce all clearly dictated putting it next to Scott Air Force Base, as military planners had been advocating for more than a decade. They considered it a no-brainer, especially after 9/11 when the main NGA facility was rebuilt next to a military base for security.

Remember all the mistakes in the NGA site assessments? They confused St. Clair County, Ill., with a county in Michigan. They had the wrong river flowing through the area. Assets in the preliminary assessment became liabilities in a hastily rewritten final assessment that was obviously changed to fit the old Obama neighborhood organizer vision of defense spending’s prime mission being social engineering and social justice.

Well, the St. Louis version of that social utopia is pushing little old ladies out of their homes, dumping rubble next to a school until kids got sick, and ignoring the needs and desires of neighbors who had their streets, businesses, crime and community needs ignored by city leaders for decades.

The feds are wasting tax dollars as St. Louis enters a tangle of lawsuits and investigations that may prevent any north St. Louis development for years. All these potential entanglements were obvious beforehand, and are all coming true the further they try to advance.

Clear land, free land, secure land with no legal entanglements awaits next to Scott Air Force Base.

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