Eighty years ago our country made a big constitutional change: The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. At 5:32 p.m. EST, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, …
Downtown and city leadership have long opposed food carts/trucks, citing the need to support brick & mortar restaurants over temporary operations with little overhead. Retail, however, is viewed differently. “Pop-up retail” gets the blessing of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis. Don’t get me wrong, I like pop-up retail and …
In October I posted about the New Wellston Child Care Center Under Construction, Adjacent To MetroLink Station, and noted promotional materials referenced compliance with the Wellston Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative. I wanted to see this initiative to see how the new construction complies, if it all. After a few emails I received a …
Fifty-eight years ago today a forty-two year old Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama: The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the “powers of a police officer of the city while in actual …
Eighty years ago our country made a big constitutional change:
The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. At 5:32 p.m. EST, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval. Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified it earlier in the day. (History.com)
Today many counties in the country remain dry or semi-dry:
33 states have laws which allow localities to prohibit the sale (and in some cases, consumption and possession) of liquor. Still, many of these states have no dry communities. Three states, Kansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, are entirely dry by default: counties specifically must authorize the sale of alcohol in order for it to be legal and subject to state liquor control laws. (Wikipedia)
From the same Wikipedia article:
Missouri state law specifically prohibits any counties, or unincorporated city or town from banning the retail sale of liquor, but only allows incorporated cities to ban the sale of liquor by the drink by public referendum. No incorporated Missouri cities have ever chosen to hold a referendum banning alcohol sales. In addition, Missouri state law specifically supersedes any local laws that restrict the sale of alcohol. (see Alcohol laws of Missouri)
At least in this regard, Missouri is a blue state.
Some are working to get a measure on a state ballot in 2014 to increase the state sales tax to fund road infrastructure. I don’t know the view statewide, but readers made it clear last week that increased sales taxes on all purchases is the least desirable option:
Q: How should Missouri make up the shortage in funding for roads & highways? (pick 2)
Increase the state fuel tax 79 [40.31%]
Toll some highways 58 [29.59%]
Increase auto licensing fees 31 [15.82%]
Close unsafe highways/bridges rather than maintain/replace them 16 [8.16%]
Increase the state sales tax 8 [4.08%]
Unsure/No Opinion 4 [2.04%]
Closing highways and bridges came in ahead of an increase in sales taxes. Here’s a look at how we got to our tax rate:
A 6-cent per gallon increase in the motor fuel tax is passed by the Legislature. The 6 cents is to be phased in over a 5-year period; 2 cents in 1992, 2 cents in 1994 and 2 cents in 1996.
Proposition A, a constitutional amendment to increase the motor fuel tax by 4 cents per gallon, is approved by the people. It becomes effective June 1. (MoDOT)
Where does this put Missouri comported to other states? Forty-fifth!
Some say fuel tax isn’t enough to do everything on MoDOT’s wish list. Probably true, but starting with fuel taxes is better than sales taxes. I also think tolling some urban highways is a good idea, I-270 comes to mind.
Downtown and city leadership have long opposed food carts/trucks, citing the need to support brick & mortar restaurants over temporary operations with little overhead. Retail, however, is viewed differently. “Pop-up retail” gets the blessing of the Partnership for Downtown St. Louis.
Don’t get me wrong, I like pop-up retail and pop-up/drive-up restaurants. They seem the same to me, a business in a temporary location for a brief period. I’m in the camp that thinks more street vending would make downtown more vibrant, attracting more people. More people means more customers for brick & mortar retail & restaurants.
Conversely, dead sidewalks are a disincentive to walk and window shop. A decade ago leaders wanted to make the Old Post Office District a 24/7 area, but they haven’t done much of anything to get there. Culinaria initially stayed open until 10pm but now closes at 9pm.
Can anyone tell me why pop-up retail is OK but pop-up restaurants aren’t?
In October I posted about the New Wellston Child Care Center Under Construction, Adjacent To MetroLink Station, and noted promotional materials referenced compliance with the Wellston Sustainable Neighborhood Initiative. I wanted to see this initiative to see how the new construction complies, if it all. After a few emails I received a copy of the initiative — it had to be scanned! The initiative process started in 1998, the final document was from January 2002.
The goals detailed were:
Raise the incomes of Wellston’s residents.
Improve the system of education in Wellston.
Improve the quality of Wellston’s neighborhoods.
Establish a central destination place in Wellston.
Improve access to employment, goods, and services for Wellston’s residents.
Improve the health and well being of Wellston’s citizens.
Enhance the image of Wellston and pride its citizens hold about their community.
Stimulate local economic growth.
Increase the social capital and improve the community capacity in Wellston.
Revitalize the MLK Corridor.
It’s hard to know how well Wellston has done with many of the above, however, the early development child care center now under construction should pay future dividends with respect to education, and eventually incomes.
The report was prepared by The National Institute for Community Empowerment, Inc., which no longer seems to exist. I couldn’t find a website and their last phone number is not in service. A local contributor was the Regional Housing and Community Development Alliance (RHCDA), rebranded this year as Rise. Area Resources for Community and Human Services (ARCHES‘) is still around as well.
I’ve been looking through the report for the last month, developing questions to ask about the progress that’s been made in the last dozen years. The most obvious are measurable results toward the ten goals listed above. Do they consider a recent Family Dollar store and a gas station as having met #10, revitalizing the MLK corridor? Any positive gains in education? Given the Wellston School District shut down in 2010 and unaccredited Normandy School District struggles, I rather doubt there’s good news to report.
The new Wellston Early Childhood Center will open in the fall of 2014, not a moment too soon.
Fifty-eight years ago today a forty-two year old Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama:
The Montgomery City Code required that all public transportation be segregated and that bus drivers had the “powers of a police officer of the city while in actual charge of any bus for the purposes of carrying out the provisions” of the code. While operating a bus, drivers were required to provide separate but equal accommodations for white and black passengers by assigning seats. This was accomplished with a line roughly in the middle of the bus separating white passengers in the front of the bus and African-American passengers in the back.
When an African-American passenger boarded the bus, they had to get on at the front to pay their fare and then get off and re-board the bus at the back door. When the seats in the front of the bus filled up and more white passengers got on, the bus driver would move back the sign separating black and white passengers and, if necessary, ask black passengers give up their seat.
On December 1, 1955, after a long day’s work at a Montgomery department store, where she worked as a seamstress, Rosa Parks boarded the Cleveland Avenue bus for home. She took a seat in the first of several rows designated for “colored” passengers. Though the city’s bus ordinance did give drivers the authority to assign seats, it didn’t specifically give them the authority to demand a passenger to give up a seat to anyone (regardless of color). However, Montgomery bus drivers had adopted the custom of requiring black passengers to give up their seats to white passengers, when no other seats were available. If the black passenger protested, the bus driver had the authority to refuse service and could call the police to have them removed.
As the bus Rosa was riding continued on its route, it began to fill with white passengers. Eventually, the bus was full and the driver noticed that several white passengers were standing in the aisle. He stopped the bus and moved the sign separating the two sections back one row and asked four black passengers to give up their seats. Three complied, but Rosa refused and remained seated. The driver demanded, “Why don’t you stand up?” to which Rosa replied, “I don’t think I should have to stand up.” The driver called the police and had her arrested. Later, Rosa recalled that her refusal wasn’t because she was physically tired, but that she was tired of giving in.
The police arrested Rosa at the scene and charged her with violation of Chapter 6, Section 11, of the Montgomery City Code. She was taken to police headquarters, where, later that night, she was released on bail. (Biography.com)
The bus was so full of white passengers the driver wanted Parks to stand. In 1955 more of the general (read: white) population rode public transit compared to today. Increased car ownership and decentralization of regions has changed who does — and doesn’t ride public transit.
For the poll this week I’m asking for the top 3 reasons why you don’t ride public transit — as your primary mode. One answer in the poll is that you do ride, I’ve also provided a field for you to submit your own answer. The poll is on the top of the right sidebar in the desktop view.
The time capsule box was to be refilled and placed back into the front planter for opening in 2038. If I’m still alive then I’d like to attend. January 20, 2014 marks the 25th anniversary of the opening of the building.
In the last couple of years the intersection of Clayton Rd & Clayton Ave, between the giant Amoco sign and Cheshire Inn, went on a much-needed road diet.
The space gained from reducing the public right-of-way is now part of the Cheshire parking lot, see the related: Pedestrian Access Route to The Cheshire Easily Blocked. Finally there was a chance to improve this intersection and get it right. Well, it’s improved — no doubt about that. Unfortunately, it isn’t “right” given that it’s new construction.
In addition to the ramps/detectable warnings being poorly situated, there’s no crosswalk. Crosswalks help guide the visually-impaired and reinforce to motorists to look out for pedestrians crossing the street. Pedestrians have the right-of-way, motorists must yield to pedestrians.
The City of St. Louis either designed this, or approved the drawings of the contractor. Either way it’s pretty pathetic given how easy it would’ve been to do it right. What would be right? Just look at the nearly identical situation at Olive & Lindell.
I’m emailing this post to various officials, including 28th ward alderman Lyda Krewson, though it’s too late now without great expense.
Tomorrow is known as “Black Friday” but 74 years ago today is known as Black Tuesday here in St. Louis.
The day became infamous as Black Tuesday, the worst of many smoke-choked days in what was to be St. Louis’ smokiest cold-weather season. The city already was known for the nation’s filthiest air, worse even than Pittsburgh’s.
The reason was the area’s reliance on cheap, dirty, high-sulfur “soft” coal dug from the hills and hollows across the Mississippi River in Illinois. St. Louis’ first anti-smoke ordinance dated to 1867. But as the city grew in population and industry, the smoke kept getting worse. (stltoday.com)
This day finally prompted the city to ban the use of cheap soft coal, a hard sell during the Great Depression. Watch a brief KETC9 Living St. Louis video here.
On this day be thankful earlier generations took steps to protect the air we breath.
In unusually high voting, it seems readers don’t want Missouri to recognize same-sex marriages until forced to do so by the courts, likely the United States Supreme Court. Here’s the results from last week’s poll:
Q: Should Missouri allow same-sex couples to marry before being required by the courts?
No 130 [51.79%]
Yes 102 [40.64%]
Unsure/no opinion 19 [7.57%]
These polls, of course, aren’t scientific.
Even without recognition by Missouri, my boyfriend and I are registered Domestic Partners with the City of Saint Louis. We’ll be married across the river in Illinois in June. In 2015 we’ll file our federal and state taxes as a married couple.
In the meantime more Missouri same-sex couples will continue getting married out of state — especially border states like Iowa & Illinois. Missouri could draw couples from redder states like Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Doing so would help our state economy.
Once the SCOTUS makes same-sex marriage recognized in all 50 states, the short-term geographic advantage will be lost. Sadly, Missouri will probably be among the final holdouts — like Mississippi and Alabama.
I’m generally in favor of reducing the number of government entities in the St. Louis region. The 2011 Where We Stand report (p88) sums up the numbers:
We rely on local government for a wide array of services including public education, health and safety, infrastructure, environmental protection and sanitation, public housing, and arts and cultural support.
• The St. Louis region continues to be ranked in the top three for overall number of governmental units, as well as for the ratio of governments to population.
Depending on perspective, the region’s local government structure can be seen as the 3rd most fragmented or the 3rd most accessible to its citizens and businesses.
• With 884 individual units of government,
St. Louis ranks 3rd only to Pittsburgh and Denver among our peer regions in ratio of local governments to citizens.
For the 35 peer regions, the average number of governmental units has decreased from 399 in 2002 to 379 in 2007.
• Of the 35 regions, 20 have fewer governmental units in 2007 than they had in 2002.
In the St. Louis region, the number of units of local government continues to increase.
• Less than half of local government units in the St. Louis region are general-purpose governments, such as counties, municipalities, and townships.
• In 2007, the St. Louis region had 9.8 municipalities per 100,000 population, up from 8.9 municipalities per 100,000 in 2002.
A majority of area local governments have been established for specific functions, including school districts, special taxing districts, or other special district governments.
• Almost all of these special district governments perform a single task, such as drainage and flood control, soil and water conservation, fire protection, water supply, or housing and community development.
• The St. Louis region’s ratio of school districts per population ranked 2nd in 2007 with 4.8 per 100,000 population; slightly lower than the 5.0 per 100,000 reported in 2002.
I’m of the belief that more units of government isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, just as fewer isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. I do know the St. Louis region
Contains roughly 2.8 million people
Less than half (46%), 1.3 million, live in St. Louis City & County
137 years since St. Louis City removed itself from St. Louis County, residents of both entities have very strong, mostly negative, feelings about the other. Those in the rest of the region hold similar views about one or both.
Sponsored by the Missouri Council for a Better Economy, Better Together is a grassroots project born in response to growing public interest in addressing the fragmented nature of local government throughout St. Louis City and County, which dates back to 1876, when St. Louis City broke away from St. Louis County.
The resulting absence of a cohesive governmental structure left a void and many smaller governments formed to fill it. This is why the 1.3 million people who call St. Louis home are served by 116 local governments, which include St. Louis City and County, as well as 91 municipalities and 23 fire districts. The costs associated with funding all 116 governments (excluding airport and water service fees) has reached a staggering $2 billion per year. To-date, there has been no comprehensive single study that has looked across the City and County to determine whether the region could improve both service and cost by streamlining and eliminating redundancies and better serve the people of St. Louis.
Better Together is neither putting forth nor advocating for a specific plan to such end, but rather seeks to act as a facilitator, a resource for information and tools, and a catalyst to spark discussion. Accordingly, we will drive an inclusive, transparent process of developing and assembling valuable information other organizations can use to craft their own plans for what the future of the region should look like, as well as judge plans put forth by others.
I remain a skeptic for a variety of reasons:
As I explained earlier, the region is much larger and more complex than just St. Louis City & County.
“Sponsored by” and “grassroots” in the same sentence! Really, how exactly does that work? Sounds like this might be astroturfing.
Just collecting data for the community to decide what to do with it, but the name and MCBE clearly shows reunification as the intent. Plus, data from the many school districts isn’t being collected because they don’t want to get “bogged down.” If the mission is to collect data on how tax money is being spent it makes sense to look at it all — what’s the hurry?
Let’s dig a bit deeper into the above reasons I listed.
Forty-six percent of the region’s population isn’t the region. Granted, this 46% live in the city or county that carry the region’s name. Still, I think something well over 50% is required to discuss a topic as regional in nature. Better together is clearly focused on the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County only, not the region.
From their “About Us” as of 8:30am yesterday “The studies were funded by MCBE, whose sole donor until now has been Rex Sinquefield, a retired investment fund executive and philanthropist.” Oh but they told me he hasn’t given any money in a year. Rex is a fan of chess and I can see a strategy playing out of him giving enough money to fund MCBE for a couple of years – that way it can be paid he’s the sole donor from the past, but not now. Question for MCBE, how many donors since the last donation from Rex?
Calling yourself grassroots doesn’t mean you’re actually a grassroots movement. The Better Together STL materials indicate it’s a project of MCBE, not a separate organization. I didn’t find any such organization listed with the Secretary of State. The website does list a board which is comprised of the powerful & elite of local politics and business. Also on this “board” — Rex’s Chief of Staff. Those in attendance at the kickoff represent more of the same — nothing remotely grassroots about it.
Several issues here. The speakers all said they’re just collecting data so we know what we spend and where — sounds reasonable. But everywhere you look at Better Together and MCBE the final goal is clear — unification of some sorts. And schools are a big part of where our tax money is spent and school districts are governmental entities just like fire protection districts, we should look at education too if the goal is an honest self evaluation.
While I support reducing the number of units of government my goal isn’t to provide the same services for less money, as was stated several times. My goal would be to provide more services distributed more evenly for the same money.
Unfortunately, I see Better Together & MCBE as a backdoor to Rex’s radical tax policies — no state income taxes, no city earnings taxes, higher property & sales taxes. The wealthy’s fantasy to get out of paying their share, they can easily buy any services the community can’t afford to provide. Some will claim this has bipartisan support, but our Democrats are often that in name only, they’re as fiscally conservative policy-wise as far-right Republicans. I keep hoping a local version of Bernie Sanders will appear. I want to believe this is an altruistic effort, but I’m not gullible.
I’d like to see an actual grassroots effort look at our region with an open mind — perhaps even concluding nothing should change with respect to the relationship between the city & county.
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