by Aimee Levitt
Before we get too far into this story, know that Michael Moore does not oppose the building of the Memorial Walkway in Kirkwood which will commemorate the night in February 2008 when Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton went ballistic and opened fire on a city council meeting, killing six people, including the mayor, Mike Swoboda.
Not at all. What Moore objects to, reports the Post-Dispatch, is the source of the project's funding. He claims that the city of Kirkwood is using nearly $500,000 generated from sales tax and intended for the city's Capital Improvement Fund which repairs streets and sidewalks and pays for equipment for police officers and firefighters. This is, Moore writes in his blog, "unconstitutional and illegal."
He believes money for the memorial should come from private donors.
Last week, Moore filed a temporary restraining order in St. Louis County to halt construction on the memorial, a walkway and plaza in downtown Kirkwood, plus six benches, one for each of Thornton's victims.
The project has actually been underway for nearly six months, but Moore told the Post-Dispatch that he tried speaking to city leaders and at city council meetings but was ignored. "I hate that I had to go to court, to spend money I don't have, to get answers," he said.
In a hearing yesterday, Judge Robert Cohen gave Moore until tomorrow, April 28, to provide case law to support his arguments. Kirkwood was represented by city attorney John Hessel, himself a survivor of the shooting. Hessel told the court that the memorial was almost 90 percent paid for.
Moore, like the documentarian whose name he shares, is no stranger to politics. On his blog, he describes himself as a "lover of life and a good political fight." Originally an activist to support the interests of the black residents of Meacham Park. In 2008 he ran for mayor and lost to Art McDonnell, who still holds the office (and is, incidentally, a defendant in Moore's lawsuit). He later lost another election for city council.