St. Louis Unite: Slay, Dooley Call for Open Minds at City/County Merger Symposium

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St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. - FACEBOOK
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Are St. Louis City and St. Louis County ready to hug it out and become one entity to benefit the region? That was the big question at Friday's public merger discussion at the Saint Louis University School of Law.

Panels of community leaders, regional historians and policy experts spoke about the pros and cons of merging completely or partially, but civic activists primarily cared about the ideas from St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and St. Louis County Executive Charley Dooley. We followed the discussion on Twitter through the #MergeSTL hashtag (with host @SLULAW doing the heavy lifting) and learned that while local leaders are heavily involved in the merger conversation, they've still got plenty of issues to address. Check out the symposium highlights below, or go to Storify for a much longer tweet recap.

Slay opened the day-long symposium with a plea for cooperation and a reminder that leaders still are figuring out the best way to approach a merger:

Dooley also emphasized working together, saying that the entire region's health depends on efficiency and communication:

Continue for thoughts from a former senator who successfully merged city and county governments.

Former Indiana senator and Indianapolis mayor Richard Lugar shared the benefits and hardships his area faced when Indianapolis and Marion County unified governments and tasks:

The afternoon panels mostly focused on the national, state and local history that led to the City/County split, how siloed municipalities contribute to the decline of communities and how a merger may affect crime:

Continue for the best St. Louis crime video ever, plus special "merging" options.

But our favorite historical tidbit? St. Louis legalized prostitution for a while in the 1870s:

Reviving legalized prostitution could encourage "merging" in more ways than one. Let's get on it, governments.

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