This week, County Executive Charlie Dooley and I submitted a City-County application for Code for America. This is already good news.
Over the past three years, Code for America (CfA) has helped break down barriers between people and innovation, information sharing, civic engagement, and collaboration. The non-profit has done so by enlisting teams of Fellows - developers, designers and product managers - seeking to do a year of public service, and then inviting communities across the country to submit proposals for how they would put these Fellows to work. The County Executive and I are committed to breaking down these same barriers across City-County lines, and we welcome the assistance of local and international talent to do so.
St. Louis, whether we personally think of it as "the City or "the County," is still viewed by the rest of the world as one metropolitan area. Our Code for America submission reflects the increasing number of St. Louisans who expect their elected leaders and local governments to adopt a similar cityview.
The Great Divorce - the City-County split of 1876 - is one mistake our region has long endured. We seek CfA's assistance in helping St. Louis identify practical ways for our community to work past (hack?) this schism. CfA can draw on longer-term work being undertaken by coalitions such as Better Together, while taking its own fresh look at our strengths and challenges to propose immediate responses to immediate needs.
Regardless of the municipality, township, ward, or neighborhood involved, St. Louisans deserve more efficient, more responsive, and more transparent government - not later, but now.
Code for America says its Fellows seek the most challenging scenarios municipal governments can throw at them. I believe bridging the decades-long dichotomy of our local government structure could provide CfA with one of its greatest challenges yet.
Charlie and I feel the Fellows of CfA are up to our challenge. I hope to be able to tell you next that they have accepted it.
2015 Code for America Fellowship Application