Only 92 Days Until St. Louis’ First Non-Partisan Municipal Election

 

 Another presidential election is behind us…well, most of us. Now it’s time to think about St. Louis’ March 2021 primary.  It began a week ago when filing opened. Here’s a look at the important dates, from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners: 11/23/20: Filing begins 01/04/21: Filing ends 01/20/21: …

Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

 

 Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients. …

POLL: Should Missouri’s Governor Mandate Masks?

 

 The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but the response hasn’t been static since the start: The number of states with statewide mask mandates has risen since the summer, when roughly half of states had statewide mandates in place. Today, almost three-fourths of states have a statewide mandate in place. (ABC News) Missouri …

Population Loss in Six North St. Louis Wards

 

 As I pointed out recently, north St. Louis continues experiencing population loss. In my post on the election results I wrote: Despite the increase in registered voters, six contiguous north city wards (1,2,3,4,21,22,27) had decreases in registered voters. These same six also had decreases in 2016. When the 2020 census …

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Only 92 Days Until St. Louis’ First Non-Partisan Municipal Election

November 30, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Only 92 Days Until St. Louis’ First Non-Partisan Municipal Election
 

Another presidential election is behind us…well, most of us. Now it’s time to think about St. Louis’ March 2021 primary.  It began a week ago when filing opened.

Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Here’s a look at the important dates, from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners:

  • 11/23/20: Filing begins
  • 01/04/21: Filing ends
  • 01/20/21: Absentee voting begins
  • 02/03/21: Last day to register for this election
  • 02/17/21: Last day to request an absentee ballot
  • 03/01/21: Last day to vote absentee in person
  • 03/02/21: Election date

The March 2, 2021 primary will look very different from any previous primary in St. Louis history — every candidate is independent of a political party. Earlier this month voters approved a measure to change local elections to non-partisan.

The other major change is when you have three or more candidates. If no candidate gets at least 50% of the vote in the March 2nd primary then the top two candidates will face each other in a runoff in April.

No longer will the March primary be the de facto election, April should matter. Unless all races only have one or two candidates. And theoretically we could have races with 3 or more candidates but one gets at least 50% of the votes on March 2nd. Propositions and school board elections remain in April, first Tuesday.

It will eliminate printing primary ballots for up to five political parties (Democrat, Republican, Green, Constitution, Libertarian).  Fringe candidates often ran in a party other than democrat, this got them on the April general election ballot. No more of that thankfully.

We may still have fringe candidates on the March ballot, but they’ll likely not make a possible runoff in April.

What local offices are having elections in March 2021? The aldermen in the 14 odd-numbered wards, comptroller, and mayor. Two even-numbered wards (4, 12) have elections.

I believe the winners in the 14 aldermanic races will have 2-year terms, not the usual 4-year terms. This is because beginning in 2023 the number of wards will drop from 28 to 14. Voters approved this change a number of years ago.

As stated in the opening paragraph, filing began a week ago. Potential candidates still have more than a month to file, so if you’ve ever thought about running you’ve still got until January 4, 2021.

Fewer candidates have filed on the first day than I expected. Lewis Reed & Cara Spencer have both filed for mayor. Others like Tishaura Jones are expected to file. Mayor Lyda Krewson recently announced she wouldn’t seek a second term.

Only incumbent Darlene Green has filed for comptroller, not sure anyone else will file. Even candidates I like shouldn’t win simply because nobody ran against them.

As of the first day of filing no candidate has filed in four of the nine aldermanic seats, something I wasn’t expecting. The four are 1, 11, 17, and 27.

Unsurprisingly eight wards only have one candidate, so far. These are 3, 4, 7, 9, 15, 19, 23, and 25. Of these  six are incumbents: 4, 9, 15, 19, 23, and 25.

And my favorite— four wards have contested races: 5, 12, 13, and 21. The first three are the incumbent and a challenger. The 21st ward is the incumbent and three challengers! So far the 21st ward is the only race that might lead to an April runoff.

Sometime between the close of filing and the election I’ll look at the races and candidates. In the meantime I encourage those who are interested to run for public office. To see how to file for alderman click here.

— Steve Patterson

 

Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance

November 28, 2020 Featured, Metro East, Missouri, Politics/Policy, Retail, St. Charles County, St. Louis County, STL Region Comments Off on Pandemic St. Louis Style: Policy Fragmentation & Cognitive Dissonance
 

Early this week the KMOV News (CBS/4.1) had a story on the Jefferson County Health Department approving a mask mandate — and the upset group protesting outside. The very next story was the St. Louis Area Task Force saying hospital beds, including ICU, beds were filling up with COVID-19 patients.

People were protesting wearing masks in public while area hospitals are announcing they’re filling up quickly. There’s a term for this: cognitive dissonance.

The mental conflict that occurs when beliefs or assumptions are contradicted by new information. The unease or tension that the conflict arouses in people is relieved by one of several defensive maneuvers: they reject, explain away, or avoid the new information; persuade themselves that no conflict really exists; reconcile the differences; or resort to any other defensive means of preserving stability or order in their conceptions of the world and of themselves. The concept was developed in the 1950s by American psychologist Leon Festinger and became a major point of discussion and research. (Britannica)

Metro requires riders to wear masks on buses and trains. Metro doesn’t serve Jefferson or St. Charles counties.

How does this relate to masks?

Because of the intense polarization in our country, a great many Americans now see the life-and-death decisions of the coronavirus as political choices rather than medical ones. In the absence of a unifying narrative and competent national leadership, Americans have to choose whom to believe as they make decisions about how to live: the scientists and the public-health experts, whose advice will necessarily change as they learn more about the virus, treatment, and risks? Or President Donald Trump and his acolytes, who suggest that masks and social distancing are unnecessary or “optional”? (The Atlantic)

I don’t like wearing masks, but it’s the right thing to do around anyone other than my husband. The worst days are when I have treatment at Siteman Cancer Center, my mask is on for hours.

Then on Wednesday I saw a news story at Lambert airport on holiday. An airport spokesperson was explaining how everyone inside the terminal had to wear a mask — except she was inside the terminal and not wearing a mask! Two different travelers inside the terminal, both with masks, said they weren’t concerned because they were taking precautions — but their nostrils were visible!

My mom was a waitress for many years, so I feel for food service employees and restaurant owners. A recent story showed an owner upset at recent St. County restrictions prohibiting indoor dining. They argued it was unfair, if people could go into Target & shop they should be able to dine in. Uh, except that shoppers have to keep their masks on in retail stores — inside bars & restaurants the masks come off after being seated. Apples to oranges.

As I was writing this yesterday I saw a story on dine in supporters in St. Louis County. I wish as much effort was put into improving the carryout experience (ordering & packaging).

We’re back to limits on items because some placed their own important over that of the community.

A lot of this cognitive dissonance is due to the vastly different pandemic policies in different jurisdictions in the region. At least the Illinois side of the region has one uniform policy imposed by Governor Pritzker.  Here in Missourah Gov Parson has taken a hands-off approach, resulting in an infection rate double that of Illinois.   As a result each county has to go at it alone even though residents frequently cross over borders. Other than the hospital’s pandemic task force we have no regional leadership.

Our hospitals are full and their workers are exhausted. All because people aren’t willing to wear a mask in public or eat their restaurant dinner at home.

– Steve Patterson

POLL: Should Missouri’s Governor Mandate Masks?

November 22, 2020 Featured, Missouri, Sunday Poll Comments Off on POLL: Should Missouri’s Governor Mandate Masks?
 
Please vote below

The COVID-19 pandemic continues, but the response hasn’t been static since the start:

The number of states with statewide mask mandates has risen since the summer, when roughly half of states had statewide mandates in place. Today, almost three-fourths of states have a statewide mandate in place. (ABC News)

Missouri is among the states without a mask mandate, but earlier this month one group sought to change that.

The Missouri Hospital Association sent a letter to Governor Mike Parson urging him to implement a statewide mask mandate as hospitals become increasingly overwhelmed with record numbers of coronavirus patients, many requiring specialized intensive care unit beds that are quickly becoming scarce.

Governor Parson has largely been a proponent of encouraging, but not mandating, mask-wearing. (KRCG)

This is the subject of  today’s poll, the three answers are presented in random order.

After you’ve voted you can continue to see my thoughts on the matter of mask mandates.

… Continue Reading

Population Loss in Six North St. Louis Wards

November 16, 2020 Featured, North City, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Population Loss in Six North St. Louis Wards
 
The six wards on the top 1/3 of the city had lower registered voters in 2016 & 2020.

As I pointed out recently, north St. Louis continues experiencing population loss. In my post on the election results I wrote:

Despite the increase in registered voters, six contiguous north city wards (1,2,3,4,21,22,27) had decreases in registered voters. These same six also had decreases in 2016. When the 2020 census numbers are released next year we’re going to see population loses in the north side, but increases in the central corridor — the same pattern happened a decade ago. The overall increase in registered voters tells me the overall population loss slowed again or we might even see a very slight increase in population. A loss is more likely.

Overall the city had increased voter registration compared to 2016, so something is going on. Once we have the detailed census results we’ll get a clearer picture what is happening.

In the meantime I have some thoughts on this subject.

The 1940 census saw a decline from 1930 — those who could afford to move to the new suburbs  were doing so in large numbers.

Peak population in St. Louis in 1950 was around 856k. That population exceeded the physical capacity of our housing units — major overcrowding occurred in the oldest housing. Housing in the NW & SW was only 20-30 years old during the 1950 census, it likely wasn’t overcrowded. It was the 19th century housing that was overcrowded. The increased population masked an underlying problem — the white middle class was fleeing rapidly. Rural/poor whites & blacks looking for work after WWII made the census numbers look good but it was a huge shift in people.

In the seven decades since we’ve razed a significant percentage of the 19th century structures for highways, urban renewal projects, and due to abandonment. During this time the total population each census was less than the previous census. Initially it was large scale and widespread, but has slowed. Within a few decades all white neighborhoods became all black neighborhoods.

After the 2010 census we saw increased population in the central corridor (downtown west to city limits) but losses north and in parts of south St. Louis. I don’t think we’ll ever see widespread abandonment south of the central corridor. So much has been rehabbed — just too much invested to walk away. This is not to say that small areas on the southside won’t see losses, they very well could. Another thing we saw in the 2010 census was the black population dropped to just below 50% of the total, the white population remained unchanged as a percentage.

The six wards that make up the northern third of the city, on the other hand, are highly likely to see significant losses in the 2020 census results. These losses will most likely account for the majority of the overall population loss of the city.

What’s happening is the residents of these six wards are likely finding better housing elsewhere — either in the rest of the city or in St. Louis County. Population in the St. Louis region has long shifted around in search of better housing. What’s new is in these wards we are seeing a significant shift out with no new group shift in. When older homeowners die their kids don’t want the dated old family home.

To be sure there are some very nice pockets within these six wards with well-maintained houses, tree-lined streets, etc with relatively dense populations.  These islands are in contrast to the food/job deserts of the rest of the wards. Large non-residential sites include O’Fallon & Fairgrounds parks, Bellerive & Calvary cemeteries, and the contaminated government facility on Goodfellow occupy a lot of land, but a lot of the land is where buildings used to exist.

With these longtime wards emptying out it presents problems for redistricting next year. Ideally political boundaries are drawn to be compact, ideally square in shape. But you also want wards to reflect the demographic makeup of the population. After redistricting each ward represents roughly the same amount of people so the number of wards doesn’t matter as much when a third of the city is being vacated while the two-thirds is stable or increasing. It’s going to be challenging keeping the same number of majority black wards. I could see a black alderperson representing a diverse south city ward.  The next redistricting will reduce the number of wards from 28 to 14.

In a future post I’ll share my thoughts what St. Louis should do to counteract the increasingly empty third of the of the city.

— Steve Patterson

Downtown St. Louis Grocery Store ‘Culinaria’ Will Soon Become A ‘Schnucks’

November 12, 2020 Downtown, Featured, Retail Comments Off on Downtown St. Louis Grocery Store ‘Culinaria’ Will Soon Become A ‘Schnucks’
 

In August 2009 Schnucks Markets opened a small format grocery store in downtown St. Louis. It has been called “Culinaria, A Schnucks Market.” They had little choice, the Schnucks’ development company Desco had razed the historic marble-clad Century Building to construct a parking garage for their Old Post Office project across 9th Street — but the ground floor retail space wasn’t getting leased. To save face, Schnucks opened a grocery store in the space.

They didn’t have much confidence it would be successful, so they called it Culinaria rather than Schnucks. To their surprise it has been a success, though the average transaction amount is likely less than the big stores.

The entrance is at 9th & Olive, the Culinaria name is still present. For now.

Very soon they’ll drop the ‘Culinaria’ brand name to become a ‘Schnucks’, like the bigger stores.

Schnucks family members cutting the ribbon at Culinaria on August 11, 2009

Over the last 11 years they’ve made physical changes, such as a minor reconfiguration of shelves in 2013. They also stopped doing wine tastings in the upstairs mezzanine long ago. The Kaldi’s Coffee station closed before the pandemic. The pharmacy became a CVS pharmacy this year, as Schnucks sold their pharmacy business entirely.

In 2013 shortcut was eliminated (red circles) to gain needed shelf space. Grocery items were largely rearranged.

Currently the store is undergoing the biggest changes since opening. Here’s a list of just some of the ongoing changes I’ve observed:

  • New shopping carts
  • New flooring is being installed throughout
  • The coffee station is gone
  • The wine & spirits will be moving from the mezzanine to maim floor
  • The dark shelving is being changed to white shelving
  • New aisle guides
  • Self-check stations have been added for the first time, replacing most cashier stations
  • The wall over the deli, meat, seafood areas is now red with new signage.
  • Only very longtime employees still have Culinaria name tags.

You could say they’re just revising the store, but everything new now has the Schnucks name on it. The Culinaria name and the design elements that distinguished it from regular Schnucks stores are all being removed.

The Schnucks name over the front door is new,

Schnucks hasn’t yet announced the name change, and a spokesperson didn’t confirm it upon my inquiry. But clearly it’s happening. The very last change will likely be new exterior signage.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

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