Michael Sack

Michael Sack

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If a white job applicant is passed over for a position that ultimately is awarded to another white candidate, is there a basis to claim racial discrimination?

That is the very pestiferous question that federal Magistrate Judge Rodney H. Holmes now has to answer, as former interim St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department chief and Michael Sack, a white man, filed a lawsuit against the City of St. Louis, alleging that he experienced racial discrimination when the city chose another white man, Robert Tracy, another white man, as Chief of Police for SLMPD.

In a petition filed in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Missouri, Sack alleged that he was passed over for the position of police chief specifically because he is white. Sack and his attorney have presented an unsupported set of facts to a federal court, painting an absurdly unbelievable tale of what Sack claims to be “reverse discrimination” - that simply because Sack is a white man, he was passed over as the highest ranking officer in the SLMPD.

In Sack’s world, he wasn’t given the job because there were equally qualified or superior candidates - or even outside candidates who didn’t come with the same baggage as a 25+-year career with SLMPD usually does. His lawsuit alleges that after two Black police chief candidates were offered the job and declined, Tracy (who, again, is white) was offered the job.

Sack was at the bottom of the prospect list - and he can’t seem to accept that there were simply better choices for the city than to continue his leadership of the SLMPD. He’s even woven a bizarre media narrative that he was a “front runner” for the permanent police chief role. We guess it’s easier for him to believe that his whiteness was the reason – and for that alone, we are pleased that he is not our current police chief.

While Sack’s lawsuit is quick to cite criticism of Tracy by some members of the Wilmington, Delaware city council, there is no mention of Sack’s apparent inability to address his own racial biases, including his blaming the Ferguson Uprising for SLMPD’s failure to solve murders and possibly misrepresenting his own involvement in former circuit attorney Kimberly Gardner’s infamous “blacklist” of SLMPD officers.

Unlike the other job candidates, Sack enjoyed a six-month trial period during which he served the city as interim police chief. He essentially had the job, but his performance apparently was not convincing enough to keep him in that position. To his credit, Sack led SLMPD during the Central Visual and Performing Arts High School mass shooting last fall and police officers were duly  credited for their exceptionally speedy response to the tragedy. 

But murder clearance rates did not improve under Sack’s leadership. Gun violence has not decreased and instead has become more widespread. Vehicle thefts increased, along with property crimes like vandalism and arson.

“White mediocrity” has been defined by author Ijeoma Oluo as “this idea that white men deserve political power and wealth and safety and security just because they're white men.” 

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. 


The St. Louis County Council has rejected a legislative measure that would have enabled tens of thousands of senior property owners to “freeze” their real estate property taxes until they die, deferring those payments to the next family who lives at that residence. Citing a lack of a “means test” - which would have allowed even wealthy seniors to defer property taxes - and the financial penalty for public schools, all four Democrats on the Council voted no on the proposed bill. Such a major reduction in property taxes would have also impacted the fire department and other public funded services.


Our readers may remember our July column, where we named charter school proponent and Alderwoman Cara Spencer (Ward 8) as the sponsor for the city’s tax deferment counterpart. Setting aside this peculiar alignment with St. Louis County Republicans, Spencer’s bill has not yet received a fiscal note from city officials to determine the financial impact her bill would have on the city. The Republican-backed bill in St. Louis County was estimated to decrease county tax revenue by $34 million over four years - a potentially devastating loss that thankfully their public schools will not have to suffer.

After all of the budget committee hearings where Spencer decried decreased tax revenue caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic, we would expect to see the seasoned alderwoman more proactive about raising more money for the city - not reducing it away. The political pandering, the alignment with the extremist Republicans of St. Louis County – we don’t like what we see in Board Bill 81. We expect Spencer to pull out all of the stops when this bill is brought before the Budget and Public Employees Committee – the only committee she chairs at the Board of Aldermen.

Considering the new conflict-of-interest rules that voters passed overwhelmingly in April 2022, we wonder how many alderpersons will be disclosing interests for themselves and their immediate family members. 


Finally, we would like to congratulate the voters of Glen Echo Park and Normandy for merging their municipalities and further consolidating St. Louis County. Glen Echo Park included two roads and 120 people and was originally incorporated in 1937 at the start of “white flight” from St. Louis City into the county. With a voter turnout of only 29 individuals, all but one voted to merge with Normandy.

St. Louis County now has 87 municipalities instead of 98. Forward movement is still progress. This is some welcome progress, regardless of how slow.

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