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Poll: Thoughts on Former Alderman Kacie Starr Triplett’s Personal Use of Campaign Funds

Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar
Please vote in the poll, located in the right sidebar

Kacie Starr Triplett was elected 6th ward alderman in March 2007, after getting just over 50% of the votes in a 3-way primary for the Democratic nomination, there was no challenger in the April 3, 2007 general election.  Triplett, reelected in 2011, was the youngest elected official in city hall until her resignation in November 2012.  Many, myself included, thought she had a long future at city hall. Resigning to take a non-profit job so soon after being reelected seemed puzzling, but plausible. A month prior to her resignation news broke about the FBI looking into the finances of Jesse Jackson Jr.

Then in February 2014 her sudden resignation began to make sense:

A former St. Louis alderwoman has sent out a letter of apology, admitting to using campaign money for personal use.

Kacie Starr Triplett says her illegal use of campaign funds was done on a small-scale, but did not disclose the amount of money she used. NewsChannel 5 obtained a copy of the Missouri Ethics Commission court filing, which states she misused as much as $18,900. (KSDK)

See her February 27, 2014 email here. On Friday we learned some of the consequences she’ll face as a result of her actions and admissions:

A once-rising star in city politics avoids possible jail time but agrees to a stiff fine in a deal with the circuit attorney’s office.

The deal between Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and Kacie Starr Triplett was signed on March 6th, but announced Friday only after Triplett made good on several payments.

In total Triplett has agreed to pay $22,000 in restitution, which that money will go to the St. Louis city public schools. (Fox2)

Jennifer Joyce, in an email reply, indicated the agreement is for 3 years, saying: “March of 2017 is when it will conclude.” Apparently she could also face a $100,000 fine from the Missouri Ethics Commission.

For the poll this week I want to know your reaction to her illegal use of campaign funds and the consequences, I’ve provided numerous answers but you can also add your own. Pick up to two.

— Steve Patterson

 

Three St. Louis Aldermen Will Sponsor a Marijuana Legalization Panel Discussion Monday 3/24 6-8pm

Entrance marker to Harris-Stowe State University. Compton and what was once Laclede Ave
Entrance marker to Harris-Stowe State University. Compton and what was once Laclede Ave

Last year the St. Louis Board of Aldermen reduced penalties for possession of small quantities of marijuana, see Reduction in marijuana penalties approved by St. Louis Board of Aldermen.  This year Colorado began allowing the legal sale of marijuana for recreational use, Washington state will do the same later this year.  New polls show a narrow majority of Americans support the legalization.  The debate comes to St. Louis Monday evening:

ST. LOUIS (AP) – The debate over legalization of marijuana will be the subject of an open forum in St. Louis later this month. Three members of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen are hosting the forum the evening of March 24 at Harris-Stowe State University. The panel discussion will address the disproportionate number of marijuana arrests for African-Americans, the safety of the drug, and whether a marijuana tax would benefit government revenues. (KSDK)

With the legalization of marijuana being such a hot topic these days, Sixth Ward Alderwoman Christine Ingrassia will address various issues surrounding the debate during an open forum at Harris-Stowe State University, Monday, March 24, 2014, 6-8 p.m. in the Emerson Performance Center’s Bank of America Theatre. Held in collaboration with Alderman Chris Carter, 27th Ward, and Alderman Shane Cohn of the 25th Ward, the panel discussion will address how marijuana arrests disproportionally affect people of color; whether marijuana is safer than alcohol; how legalization would affect black market drug sales and whether a marijuana tax would benefit declining government revenues. (St. Louis American)

The history of the drug and how it became illegal is interesting, and a reflection of our racial fears:

The political upheaval in Mexico that culminated in the Revolution of 1910 led to a wave of Mexican immigration to states throughout the American Southwest. The prejudices and fears that greeted these peasant immigrants also extended to their traditional means of intoxication: smoking marijuana. Police officers in Texas claimed that marijuana incited violent crimes, aroused a “lust for blood,” and gave its users “superhuman strength.” Rumors spread that Mexicans were distributing this “killer weed” to unsuspecting American schoolchildren. Sailors and West Indian immigrants brought the practice of smoking marijuana to port cities along the Gulf of Mexico. In New Orleans newspaper articles associated the drug with African-Americans, jazz musicians, prostitutes, and underworld whites. “The Marijuana Menace,” as sketched by anti-drug campaigners, was personified by inferior races and social deviants. In 1914 El Paso, Texas, enacted perhaps the first U.S. ordinance banning the sale or possession of marijuana; by 1931 twenty-nine states had outlawed marijuana, usually with little fanfare or debate. Amid the rise of anti-immigrant sentiment fueled by the Great Depression, public officials from the Southwest and from Louisiana petitioned the Treasury Department to outlaw marijuana. Their efforts were aided by a lurid propaganda campaign. “Murder Weed Found Up and Down Coast,” one headline warned; “Deadly Marijuana Dope Plant Ready For Harvest That Means Enslavement of California Children.” Harry J. Anslinger, the commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, at first doubted the seriousness of the problem and the need for federal legislation, but soon he pursued the goal of a nationwide marijuana prohibition with enormous gusto. In public appearances and radio broadcasts Anslinger asserted that the use of this “evil weed” led to killings, sex crimes, and insanity. He wrote sensational magazine articles with titles like “Marijuana: Assassin of Youth.” (NPR – Reefer Madness)

The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 effectively banned marijuana & industrial hemp in the US, even though the drug had been used by doctors until then. In 1969 the US Supreme Court said the act was unconstitutional, see Leary v. United States. In 1970 congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which listed marijuana among the most dangerous drugs. From the US DEA:

Schedule I Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote  Schedule II Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are: cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin Schedule III Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are: Combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin), Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone Schedule IV Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are: Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talwin, Ambien Schedule V Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are: cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin

Yes, since 1970 marijuana has been listed as more dangerous than cocaine, methamphetamine, etc. For many marijuana does indeed have medical uses:

Pain is the main reason people ask for a prescription, says Barth Wilsey, MD, a pain medicine specialist at the University of California Davis Medical Center. It could be from headaches, a disease like cancer, or a long-term condition, like glaucoma or nerve pain. (webMD)

Some parents say medical marijuana stops severe seizures in their children, the reason a Missouri parent is fighting for medical marijuana here.

Again, the event is Monday 6-8pm at the Emerson Performance Center at Harris Stowe, see map.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Readers Overwhelmingly Support Reduction of Police Districts

February 12, 2014 Crime, Politics/Policy 2 Comments

In the unscientific poll last week readers gave approval to Police Chief Sam Dotson’s reduction in police districts:

Q: Your thoughts on the number of St. Louis Police districts being reduced from nine to six

  1. Good move, better distribution of officers 53 [76.81%]
  2. Won’t make any measurable difference in reducing crime 9 [13.04%]
  3. Unsure/No Opinion 5 [7.25%]
  4. Other: 2 [2.9%]
  5. Should’ve stayed with 9 districts 0 [0%]
  6. Should’ve increased the number of districts to match wards 0 [0%]

Here’s the two “other” answers:

  1. No change in crime; but less expensive for the City
  2. Probably won’t reduce/ increase crime, but it MAY reduce some operational costs.

It’ll be interesting to see if it has a measurable impact on crime statistics. Regardless, I do think it’ll boost the perception of improved law enforcement.

— Steve Patterson

 

My Memories of the 2008 Kirkwood City Hall Shooting

Six years ago today a tragic shooting took place in the Kirkwood City Hall during a city council meeting:

After storming the meeting and killing five people Thursday night, Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton was fatally shot by law enforcers. Friends and relatives said he had a long-standing feud with the city, and he had lost a federal free-speech lawsuit against the St. Louis suburb just 10 days earlier. At earlier meetings, he said he had received 150 tickets against his business. (CBS News)

Mayor Mike Swoboda was severely injured, he died 7 months later:

Mr. Swoboda’s health deteriorated following a fall he took in early May, according to his son. He also had cancer. Mr. Swoboda was moved to a hospice on the campus of St. Anthony’s Medical Center on the Tuesday prior to his death. (Webster-Kirkwood Times)

I don’t remember news of the shooting because I was in the intensive care unit at Saint Louis University Hospital, my doctors had put me into a drug-induced coma on the 2nd, after my stroke the day before.  I first learned of the shooting when I transferred to SSM Rehab at St. Mary’s on February 25th. At this same time the news was reporting Swoboda would be transferred to a rehab hospital, like the brain injury unit where I’d just arrived.

I spent nearly a month at the brain injury rehab unit at SSM/St. Mary's
I spent nearly a month at the brain injury rehab unit at SSM/St. Mary’s

Swoboda ended up being treated for his brain injury at another facility.  Not all patients in therapy had brain injuries, some had been in car accidents, had limbs amputated as a result of diabetes, etc.

I thought of the Kirkwood shooting when I recently read last month about Castle Rock, CO now allowing guns to be openly carried into public buildings & parks:

The Castle Rock Town Council heard several hours of public comment on Tuesday concerning the repeal of the firearm open-carry ban before its vote of approval.

According to the Denver Post, Town Manager Mark Stevens favored repealing the ban. A majority of the police department and town staff were opposed to the repeal. (Source)

A good way to discourage public participation.

 — Steve Patterson

 

Poll: Your thoughts on the number of St. Louis Police districts being reduced from nine to six

February 2, 2014 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll 4 Comments

For decades the Metropolitan St. Louis Police Department has had nine districts.  Effective last Monday the number was reduced to six. A week ago Chief Sam Dotson wrote on his blog:

The redesigned police districts will be more fully staffed, more streamlined, more efficient and more precisely balanced in terms of calls-for-service and crime numbers. The new system more readily lends itself to our core strategy of hot-spot policing. The transition has given us an opportunity to re-assign key personnel and give the new districts more cohesive and well lead management teams.

And yet for all the history-making significance of redistricting, the impact on the public will be so minor, I doubt most people will even notice.

You can see maps on Dotson’s proposal here.

I know St. Louis often resists change, so the poll this week asks for your thoughts on the number of St. Louis Police districts being reduced from nine to six. You can take the poll in the right sidebar. 

— Steve Patterson

 

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