Every evening before I go home, a staff member hands me a binder. In it are the materials I need for the next 24 hours — lists of calls I have to make or return; directions to places I have to go; copies of the letters I have to sign; a spreadsheet of the 10 or 15 deadlines that each day brings; and, of course, my schedule.
I make my own schedule in a meeting every two or three days. (I am convinced that someone later slips a few things in, but I can’t prove it.) I attend four or five events most days, dozens of events every week, and more than a hundred events each month. All of this is apart from the actual business of running the City — which consists, mostly, of meetings, reading, and phone calls. And it does not include the many strictly political events that require my attendance.
Here’s a small sample of things to which I have recently been invited:
The 2005 Kahlil Gibran "Spirit of Humanity" Awards Gala in Washington; the Immigrant Microenterprise Showcase & Awards; the annual dinner meeting of local supporters of one of our Sister Cities; a cocktail reception at a downtown law firm; the Henry Shaw Dinner; a visit with the national Milk Mustache tour; a tasting by a new winery (or a dinner at a new restaurant — the invitation was unclear); three separate neighborhood house tours; a student violin concert and a professional jazz festival; an international trade event in Mexico and a World Trade event here; a health forum (probably useful if the Milk Thing and Wine Thing are on the same day); the actual grand opening of the Virtual Warfare Center; the Olin School’s alumni awards dinner; two different events for the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing and one for the re-opening of the Campbell House; a labor barbecue in Jeff City; a business’s 10th anniversary celebration and a generic Small Business dinner; a ribbon cutting for a new development project; the first Pillar of Strength Dinner and the long-running Evening of Hope benefit; three church banquets; lunches with groups of bankers, lawyers, accountants and marketers; a Walk, a Run, a softball game (in Illinois),and lots of rounds of charity golf; a reception for a member of our Congressional delegation; a commencement ceremony; premieres of a movie and of an amusement park ride; a full basket of church picnics; the annual Gala for Tower Grove Park; the opening night festivities for Circus Flora; and something called the Interim National Preparedness Goal Conference in Chicago — which I missed, probably due to a lack of preparedness to travel to Chicago.
The lead time for events to which I am invited ranges from “next year” to “tonight.” Invitations are elaborately printed, carefully handwritten, sent by email and FAX or phoned in by friends or strangers. They are addressed to “Mayor Francis Slay,” “The Mayor of St. Louis,” former mayors, and to “To Whom It May Concern.”
I attend as many of the local events as I can. If I cannot attend an event personally, the office often dispatches a representative: Jeff Rainford, Charles Bryson, Cathy Smentkowski, Ken Franklin, Barb Geisman, and others.
Taken together, the invitations offer a picture of a diverse and vibrant City and region.