Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Mayor Slay Ire Animal Rights Folks ........

ST. LOUIS • Mayor Francis Slay’s support of Missouri’s “Right to Farm” constitutional amendment, which was narrowly approved by voters on Tuesday, has drawn the ire of some animal rights activists.
Slay, who has long been a favorite of dog and cat lovers in the city, recorded a last-minute robocall that was dialed to voters in St. Louis city and county on election day. Slay said on the call that he supported the amendment to “keep food costs affordable for all Missourians.”
Statewide voters approved it by a razor-thin 2,500 votes, although 73 percent of St. Louis city voters cast their ballots against it.
The Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, a group that believes the amendment could relax regulations on puppy mills, criticized Slay saying: “What had to be the most disappointing development in this campaign was the last-minute efforts by Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis to help pass this amendment.”
Until Tuesday, Slay’s support of the issue was not well known.
The amendment was promoted as an instrument to “protect the hardworking Missouri farm families who dedicate their lives to feeding our families; saving thousands of Missouri jobs and ensuring our families continue to have access to quality food at the grocery store.” Opponents said it was designed to shield the state’s agricultural industry from unwanted regulations, animal rights initiatives, and opponents of genetically modified crops.
The Humane Society of the United States opposed the measure, saying it was “pushed by special interests who didn’t like it when Missouri voters decided to crack down on abusive puppy mills. The puppy mills want immunity under the terms of the ‘Right to Farm’ measure.”
Slay’s support of the constitutional amendment could put him at odds with the city’s animal rights supporters — a coalition that has long supported him.
Jeff Rainford, Slay’s chief of staff, said the mayor supported it because it is “innocuous and that it is not going to do all of the things (opponents) claim it is going to do.”
“(Slay) has been trying to build bridges between rural Missouri and St. Louis,” Rainford said. “They have supported him and the city’s agenda in Jefferson City.”
Slay has courted rural politicians for support on big city initiatives, notably the successful effort to take state control of the St. Louis police department and return it to the city. Rainford said state Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, lobbied for Slay’s support.
Rainford noted that St. Louis has been a statewide leader in animal welfare.
“Mayor Slay has been pushing hard to be a no-kill city, so it’s a little irritating to be lectured about animal rights,” he said.

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