CHICAGO - Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has tasked a newly formed commission with advising him on social and economic policy changes in the aftermath of the turbulent protests in Ferguson sparked by the police shooting of an unarmed civilian.
Nixon announced plans for the Ferguson Commission last month and on Tuesday announced the 16 members. They are charged with looking at the underlying issues raised by events in Ferguson and issuing a report with policy recommendations by Sept. 15 although Nixon said suggestions are welcome ahead of time.
The commission will be led by co-chairs Rev. Starsky Wilson and businessman Rich McClure. The members were chosen from 300 considered and represent business owners, not-for-profit leaders, educators, lawyers, police officers, public servants, pastors, and activists.
"While they are clearly a diverse group, they are united by their shared passion to promote understanding, to hasten healing, to ensure equal opportunities in education and employment, and to safeguard the civil rights of all our citizens," Nixon said in a statement.
The governor's executive order charges the group with issuing policy recommendations on citizen-law enforcement relations; racial and ethnic relations; municipal government organization and the municipal court system; and disparities in areas including education, economic opportunity, housing, transportation, health care, child care, business ownership, and family and community stability.
The Missouri Development Finance Board has approved $100,000 to fund the commission's operations and private support is being solicited. The commission will work out of space provided by Washington University.
Nixon has declared a state of emergency to utilize the Missouri National Guard ahead of an expected St. Louis grand jury decision on whether police officer Darren Wilson should face charges for shooting Michael Brown on Aug. 9.
The shooting prompted widespread protests that drew an enormous police response and drew national attention.
The city's credit has weathered the impact of protests on local businesses, increasing poverty levels over the last decade and struggles to recover from the recession. The city has a Aa3 rating on its general obligation bonds from Moody's Investors Service thanks to healthy fund balances.
The city last issued debt in January 2013 when it sold $9.1 million of certificates of participation. The COPs financed the acquisition of land and buildings for a new community center, and renovation and additions to its police department building.
"Affirmation of the Aa3 general obligation rating is based on the city's moderately-sized tax base located within the St. Louis metro area; favorable financial operations marked by healthy reserves; and manageable debt position," Moody's wrote in its last review in early 2013. The city's finances are strained by a reliance on economically sensitive sales taxes and wealth levels below that of the state's and national medians.