Ameren Change of Venue

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Ameren has filed a change of venue in the state lawsuit regarding the Taum Sauk dam break. They want the case tried in Reynolds country, rather than St. Louis. The reasons are obvious: Reynolds County has developed an economic dependency on Ameren.

Despite the extensive natural resource and property damage caused by the Dec. 14, 2005, reservoir breach, Ameren would likely get a fair shake in Reynolds County, said District 1 County Commissioner Doug Warren.

“Other than maybe a handful of people, I think most of the people are behind Ameren in this county,” Warren said.

Ameren paid $732,710 in property taxes in Reynolds County in 2006, said County Assessor Rick Parker. Tax receipts from Ameren represented 62 percent of the tax base supporting the Lesterville school.

I think I have an idea who some of the ‘other than a handful of people’ might be, but perhaps the rest of the people of Reynold’s county need to be reminded of what could have happened if the lower dam hadn’t held: chances are support for a Lesterville school would have been moot.

This is one of the problems with school funding in this state. To provide a good, basic education, each school needs a minimum amount of money, but many rural areas don’t generate enough revenue to meet this minimum need. This puts these rural areas at the mercy of a company like Ameren; who, more and more, is coming across as a strongly manipulative corporate entity, well aware that it can pull chains in Reynolds but not here in St. Louis.

The dam break was an unprecedented act of corporate malfeasance. The company management was aware that the dam was operating in an unsafe manner; but they chose not to forgo the profits that would be lost in order to take the dam offline long enough to fix.

No one was killed, but that’s either because a miracle occurred or we had the most amazing luck: pick one.

What did happen is that something very special that belonged to the people of that area–to the people of the state–was forever destroyed. The replacement might be wonderful in itself, but it will never the same. The community will, also, never be the same.

Ameren is playing a ‘big city folk’ against ‘rural folk’ game, basically playing to the economic fears in that area. Unfortunately, our good governor and state legislature aids and abets this by playing their own games with school budgets.

I feel sorry for the folks in Reynolds County, but I also feel sorry for we in St. Louis, and Missourians in general: justice has been given a price tag by people smug in their assumptions of who will, or won’t, pay it.

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