-Unless Robert Cardillo is into really big April Fool's jokes, the NGA West project will happen in north St. Louis and not where most thought it would, next to Scott Air Force Base.
If it weren't for the Illinois vs. Missouri competition that was set up on this thing, I'm not sure I would have much interest in it. But since it got so much publicity locally, I fell into the whole St. Clair County vs. St. Louis ballgame that was presented. And, as has usually been the case during my lifetime, Metro-East came out with the short straw.
It seems always to be Metro-East vs. St. Louis...or Metro-East vs. Chicago in most things political. And since Metro-East has less population than either of those other entities, the political muscle of St. Louis/MO and Chicago/IL generally carries the day. The National Geo-spatial Agency re-location bidding was just the latest example.
Now, if you're sensible, you would think locating the NGA, whose most important clients on the entire planet are located at Scott, in an expanse of free farmland next to the base, is a no-brainer. But, as with most things governmental and political, it's never that simple. The government has to take the common sense out of the equation and put the whole process through an expensive and wasteful collection of environmental studies and engineering opinions.
And then, worst of all, political wrangling, arm-twisting, and favoritism are allowed to overrule it all. So, at the end of this incredibly stupid process, you are able to read a lawyered-up and intentionally confusing tome of craziness as to why Mr. Cardillo arrived at the decision he did. One has to wonder if he didn't make his decision long ago based on orders from someone, and then the lawyers went to work on the reasoning. It would be very interesting to see a list of the people he took phone calls from, and how long those calls were, during the time this decision was supposedly still up in the air. Can you say...transparency?
For my part, and I'm not saying I'm unbiased, I can't imagine a worse place to put a spy agency and the high-quality, highly-paid work force, than a blighted, crime-ridden area in North St. Louis where you have to up-root a number of families just to clear the land needed. One can't watch the news on St. Louis television for five minutes without seeing multiple stories about shootings and other mayhem in that area of the city. I hope they plan to put one of R.Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes over the whole area for the sake of the safety of the employees.
But crime aside, the NGA is an evermore important part of the fight against the evils in this world. Our country needs this mission; and needs it to be done more than just well for the sake of our nation's security and well-being. How can we not put these people in the same proximity as the enforcers who will take their vital information and put it to use to protect us?
Will Mr. Cardillo be able to sleep at night if he bowed to political pressure and jeopardized the future safety of his fellow Americans?