Brewster McCracken “St. Louis” Ad Causes a Stir

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A couple days ago the Brewster McCracken for Mayor campaign posted this ad to their YouTube channel. In it, McCracken compares the history and relative rise and fall of the city of St. Louis as a warning that not all cities that were once great, continue to be so. Click here to see it (as the campaign has disabled it from being embedded).

On it's face, I think it is a fair comparison and critique. The St. Louis of today is not that of 1904 (nor is Austin for that matter). But the larger point is made- is our city filled with promise or is it growing so fast that we are not able to accommodate the expectations of both those who already live here as well as those who continue to move here because of what our city offers? That's an entirely reasonable debate to have, but politically, pointing out faults of other cities isn't exactly going to fly when you talk to their citizens.

Case in point, the following report from KMOV 4 in St. Louis which submitted the following local report in reaction to McCracken's ad.

The Leffingwell campaign responded (Lee flew to St. Louis during his years as a pilot for Delta).

He flew to St. Louis frequently for years as a Delta pilot.

“St. Louis is a terrific city and I don't believe it deserves to be compared unfavorably to any other city.  There are lots of things about St. Louis that other cities, including Austin, ought to be envious of.  Nobody should run down another city and insult the people who live there just to score political points at home.”

Update: Not all the locals in St. Louis are being knee-jerk reactionaries.

Mark Edwards: McCracken is spot on. The CITY of St. Louis has been allowed to die because of petty politics, a complete lack of vision for the region, and denying its residents essential services like well paved streets, decent schools, and functioning public transit.

As you can imagine, the locals here are up in arms about this shot at St. Louis. They're hurt, and I don't blame them. Its harsh, but its completely true.

St. Louis is the poster child of how to kill a city's soul, drive the people and businesses you need to thrive to the suburbs (where I live and could not be happier), and have city and county leadership spending too much time at the baseball stadium (with the vacant lot next door that was supposed to be a multi million dollar shopping/office/residential mecca in time for July's All Star Game) and not enough time looking around to see what a mess they've made or thinking of realistic ways to improve the quality of life in the region.

I don't know anything about Brewster McCracken. Wait, I do know ONE thing. He's got a better view of the sorry state of St. Louis than the people running our region do. Maybe our local leaders will take a minute, watch this commercial, and ponder what they've done to the once grand CITY of St. Louis.


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Former Publisher & Owner of the Burnt Orange Report. Political Thinker, Digital Explorer, and Time Traveler.


  1. Now?
    I find it interesting that only now does McCracken's comparison cause a stir.  He has made the comparison as early as, if I remember correctly, his campaign kickoff.

    And I agree; it is a very fair comparison to make.  And yes, politically it's not going to fly the way he is bringing up the question, especially in a widespread advertisement.  But I feel like his campaign has tried to bring it up in other ways throughout this cycle, and it has failed.  So it referred back to way 1 — this.

    Really, why haven't we been having this discussion the whole time?

  2. St. Louis: semi-typical doughnut-hole city
    They really missed the point – St. Louis metro area has continued to grow somewhat, but the city itself crashed. Do we want that here?

  3. St. Louis is dying
    I'm originally from Missouri and St. Louis is dying a slow death.  

    I've got plenty of progressive friends that live in the City of St. Louis but none of them send their kids to the city schools and all their jobs are in the suburbs.  

    There is some downtown redevelopment, but there are huge swaths of the city that are decrepit.  All you have to do is take their light rail from the suburbs to the Gateway Arch to see it all.  

  4. Light Rail
    I spent 10 months of last year working for SEIU in Mo on there home care campaign. About half of that time in St Louis. Yes, there are parts of STL that sucks but overall I found the city very easy to get around and there light rail is great! I used it to get to the airport several times.

    If Brewster want to use this as a example fine, hell he could stick closer to home and use Lubbock as a example. More empty buildings there on 50th St than you could shake a stick at!

  5. Controversy?
    If you want controversy, what about Lee's print ad with Eddie Wilson threatening to withhold chicken-fried steak if we don't vote for Lee?

    I guess if we vote for Brewster, we aren't deserving and aren't real Austinites.  Threatening our chicken fried steak is fightin' words.

      • Funny as a heart attack
        Actually, less chicken fried steak means less cholesterol. Less cholesterol means a healthier Austin. A healthier Austin means lower medical insurance rates for city employees.

        This leads to the tongue-in-cheek question of why Lee and his supporters are trying to kill us with fried foods and raise our taxes to pay for insurance premiums?

        (Wow. This tangential connection thing is really easy. To think that Rove got rich doing this.)

  6. I basically agree with Lee on this
    However, I will offer one exception: College Station. There really are no “bad” reasons to run down College Station, even if it's to score cheap political points, and even though it's never really necessary, either.

    • It is a fair comparison
      I think College Station, LA, anywhere in New Jersey, Norman (OK), and Las Vegas are always free game.

      But I think the ad works. What makes the St Louis comparison poignant is that Brewster removes the hypothetical and points to historic precedent of what happens to a community when you assume economic health is a given.

  7. irrelevant
    “why haven't we been having this discussion the whole time?”

    this sort of discussion does not add anything constructive to the direction in which our city should be heading. spending time on an ill-received city comparison is the political equivalent of play-by-play commentary in sports. it serves no purpose, save generating reader comments and irrelevant back-and-forth, circular arguments.

    it would be more constructive to talk about the content of the comparison instead – how to avoid municipal mistakes that could lead to a worse austin (i.e. more barriers to entrepreneurship and mandatory redistribution of wealth, rather than forcing the city to release its tightening choke-hold on a population that only wants to earn its livelihood).

  8. As someone who went to high school in Williamson County
    I'm annoyed with the St. Louisan reaction to the ad. I wrote about it here, and my fellow St. Louisan Archpundit has also written about how stupid the outrage is.

    St. Louis has been making some recent strides and still has a lot of great things about it, but there's no denying that a once-elite city has fallen far behind other American cities.  

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