Pendergast’s power extended statewide

Thanks to Ken Newton for including me in his story on Tom Pendergast, and also an apology for failing to talk to him about an illustration of Pendergast’s statewide power that included a St. Joseph connection.

The 1930 census had reduced Missouri’s congressional representation from 16 to 13. (We now have eight.) With no agreement on new lines, it was necessary in 1932 for congressional candidates to run statewide. Pendergast endorsed 13 candidates; 12 won. It marked a time when both the state capitol and the governor’s mansion were referred to as “Uncle Tom’s cabin.”

One of the winners was Richard M. Duncan, a Christian Brothers graduate and St. Joseph attorney. Republican congressman David Hopkins lost his re-election bid, went on to a successful career as an insurance executive. Duncan was re-elected four times, lost in 1942 to Republican Bill Cole. Consolation prize: appointment by FDR to a lifetime job as federal judge. Duncan did not go to law school; read law while deputy county clerk, admitted to bar.

Bob Slater,

St. Joseph

Don’t regress on bridge option

Every year millions of bushels of grain, thousands of livestock, tons of freight and thousands of commuters move rapidly and efficiently to their destination on the double-deck portion of Interstate 229.

It is a very efficient and well-designed roadway. Can you imagine if all that traffic had to move at ground level with rail crossings, stop lights and cross traffic? Can you see a line of semi’s waiting on a 100 car train? Would they have four lanes or two lanes with no passing? Where could you put a four-lane roadway to replace the two levels currently in place? Would you want that truck traffic from the north going down Interstate 29, then across town on Highway 36? Do you want the extra congestion at the Missouri River bridge?

Some suggest riverfront development, surely not on the peanut-size spot of ground under the double-deck roadway. Riverfront development needs acres, not square feet. Have a venue that will handle 25,000 people with room to park. What about incorporating an RV park on this development? If Interstate 229 needs repair, and I do not doubt that, then let it be repaired so it can continue to move people and product in a rapid and efficient manner as it has for so many years.

Please St. Joseph, don’t regress to the 20th century, some of us can remember trudging through Downtown with grain and livestock.

Ed Meng

Oregon, Missouri