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Sunday Poll: Should Gov. Parsons send the Missouri National Guard to help patrol the worst neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis?

April 14, 2019 Crime, Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Gov. Parsons send the Missouri National Guard to help patrol the worst neighborhoods in the City of St. Louis?
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In some St. Louis neighborhoods violent  crime is driving some to the breaking point, including 3rd ward Alderman Brandon Bosley.

From last week:

Bosley said he and the city Board of Aldermen’s black caucus had been talking for weeks about petitioning Gov. Mike Parson. He said he hoped to persuade the board to pass a resolution calling on Parson to send troops to the worst city neighborhoods.

“We’re going to have tanks on every damn corner,” Bosley said. “These people have to know we’re not playing anymore.” (Post-Dispatch)

This is the subject of today’s poll.

This poll will close at 8pm tonight, I’ll share my thoughts on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: OK With Legislators Introducing Bills To Make A Point

March 24, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: OK With Legislators Introducing Bills To Make A Point
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A Missouri legislator, Andrew McDaniel,  recently made national news. Prior to the recent shooting in Christchurch New Zealand he’d introduced two bills in the Missouri house:

35 year-old Andrew McDaniel, a state representative from southeast Missouri, has received global attention for a bill he’s introduced called the “McDaniel Militia Act” that would require every person in the state between the ages of 18 and 35 to own an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

He also has a second measure, the “McDaniel Second Amendment Act”, that would require everyone over the age of 21 to own a handgun. (Source)

After the NZ shooting McDaniel’s bills got lots of attention.

McDaniel was forced to clarify that he didn’t — technically speaking — support his own bills, at least not as written.

He wants the tax credits for firearms purchases, but that part about requiring everyone to own a gun? It was a tactic to try to bait the left.

“I wanted the media and the other side to jump on it, to show that our Second Amendment rights are under attack,” McDaniel said. “I don’t actually support mandates, hardly ever.”

But he didn’t expect the national media to get involved, a development that has cast a harsh light on his efforts, he said, because of the timing of the mosque attacks in New Zealand. (Washington Post)

So today’s poll is NOT about his bills, it’s about introducing bills that have zero chance of passing…using them to bait others.

Today’s poll will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Please Do Not Park In Accessible Parking Spaces Without State-Issued Credentials

March 11, 2019 Crime, Featured, Parking, St. Charles County Comments Off on Please Do Not Park In Accessible Parking Spaces Without State-Issued Credentials

First, a quick lesson on disabled vs handicapped:

It is possible that a disability is the cause of a handicap. For example, if a person has a disability that prevents them from being able to move their legs, it may result in a handicap in driving.

Disabled people do not have to be handicapped, especially if they can find a way around their disability. For example, braille for the visually impaired or wheel chairs for those who cannot walk. (Diffen)

In the video from the above article they list three unacceptable words: handicapped, cripple, special.  I agree. Whenever I hear or read handicapped I equate it with the word cripple. The c-word is so bad South Park’s Eric Cartman uses it.

A 2013 photo of a Porsche squeezed into the loading space between two accessible parking spots. This is just as bad because some of us need this aisle to open our doors fully, others need it for their ramp to enter/exit their vehicle.

Sadly, the media outlets in St. Louis all used handicapped, or a variation like handicap, when reporting an unfortunate situation last week in St. Charles:

Police said the Amazon delivery driver, identified as Jaylen Walker, pulled into a handicap parking space near the front of the store and was talking to another Amazon driver when the suspect pulled up. The suspect, identified as Larry Thomlison, was apparently upset about the Amazon truck being parked in the disabled space.

Thomlison took out his cellphone to document the Amazon truck in the handicap space. He posted a picture of the illegally parked delivery truck to his Facebook page.

Wilkison said Thomlison did have a handicap placard in his car.

St. Chares County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said Thomlison waited for Walker to come out of the Target and confronted him. It’s unclear if Thomlison was recording the confrontation.

Walker pushed Thomlison aside, at which point Thomlison punched the Amazon driver in the face. A struggle ensued and both men fell to the ground. As Walker got to his feet, he noticed a pistol in Thomlison’s waistband. Walker began to back away and then turned to run. Thomlison then pulled the gun from his waistband and shot the 21-year-old delivery driver in the back.

Lohmar said Walker will suffer from permanent physical injury—possibly paralysis—as a result of the shooting. (KPLR)

As frustrating as it has been for me the last decade since my stroke, no one parking in a reserved accessible spot deserves to be shot. Unfortunately, enforcement is often left up to those of us who just want to park and go about our business.

I can still remember the very first time I reported vehicles parked in disabled/accessible parking without state-issued plates/placard. I was only 8 or 9 and would bike to the then-new branch library near my house. If a car was illegally parked I’d jot down the description & plate number and go inside and insist they announce over the loud speaker that the owner move their vehicle. That was in the mid to late 1970s.  Yes, building codes required accessible parking, curb ramps, etc prior to the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Another very important thing to remember is not everyone with proper plates/placard appears obviously disabled. When I park and walk into a business it’s very obvious I’m disabled: cane, awkward gate, visible leg brace during shorts weather, etc.  However, others might have a heart condition or some other reason for their doctor to authorize a disabled plate/placard.

In the St. Charles example, numerous lives will be disrupted because one able-bodied person decided it was ok to park in an accessible spot and another brought a lethal weapon to a confrontation.  Both were unnecessary.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Closed Streets Do Not Reduce Crime

February 27, 2019 Crime, Featured, Transportation, Walkability Comments Off on Opinion: Closed Streets Do Not Reduce Crime

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was about closed streets and crime, prompted by a news story about new research at Saint Louis University:

St. Louis’ often-interrupted street grid is the outgrowth of the 1970s-era “defensible space” strategy to address rising crime championed by Oscar Newman, a prominent urban planner who was a Washington University architecture professor in the mid-1960s, according to the paper. That idea stems from the notion that an area is safer when residents feel a sense of ownership and control, which Newman described as allowing neighbors to focus their attention on “removing criminal activity from their communities.”

St. Louis became the birthplace of such ideas, according to the paper. And they haven’t had the desired effect. (Post-Dispatch)

Below is one such example where “Schoemehl pots”, just sections of sewer pipe, were used to limit vehicular traffic.

Schoemehl pots used in their traditional role of messing up the street grid, 2012 photo.

Their paper’s conclusion:

Oscar Newman’s defensible space theory is a product of St. Louis’s mid-century history. It is perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that St. Louis also offers a large-scale implementation of defensible space in the street barriers that constrict swaths of the city’s geography. The barriers scattered across the city’s landscape are a testament not only to former Mayor Vincent Schoemehl, the elected official most closely associated with the barriers, but to Newman himself. We have developed the most comprehensive known list of closures in the city, and find that the density of closures is not associated with less crime in neighborhoods. Our finding is an important one for St. Louis, given that addressing crime is the argument being made explicitly in the legislation that authorizes more recent installations of barriers. For other municipalities that may be considering defensible space or other techniques to “design out” crime, our findings suggest that street closures are at best ineffective and at worst associated with higher rates of violent crime in neighborhoods. They may also have secondary effects on first responders’ ability to reach the neighborhoods they serve. (Research paper)

I completely agree with the conclusions of the researchers, but I also think they should be looking at earlier changes to the urban street grid. As I’ve said before, when Harold Bartholomew (1889-1989) first arrived in St. Louis in the nineteen teens he quickly began assaulting our fine network of public streets. Writing decades later in the 1947 plan:

Since 1916 St. Louis has expended over $40,000,000 in opening, widening, connecting, and extending the system of major streets. Much has been accomplished in converting a horse and buggy street system to automobile needs. As the total volume of traffic increases, however, certain new needs arise. An example is the desirability of grade separations at extremely heavy intersections, such as at Grand and Market and at Kingshighway and Lindell. Likewise there is a need for complete separation of grade where traffic volume is sufficiently heavy to justify the cost involved. The Federal Government, which has helped finance our splendid system of national highways, has recently revised its policies and Congress has appropriated substantial funds to aid the cities in the construction of express highways and for facilitation of traffic flows from certain selected state highways through metropolitan areas to the central business districts of large cities. (1947 Plan)

In just three decades St. Louis spent today’s equivalent of nearly a half a billion dollars on dramatic changes to the street grid.  Half a billion!

Franklin Ave looking East from 9th, 1928. Collection of the Landmarks Association of St Louis

The reference to the “horse and buggy street system” illustrates he didn’t think it was suitable for the automobile. Bartholomew, a civil engineer by training, was no doubt influenced by the City Beautiful movement.

City Beautiful movement, American urban-planning movement led by architects, landscape architects, and reformers that flourished between the 1890s and the 1920s. The idea of organized comprehensive urban planning arose in the United States from the City Beautiful movement, which claimed that design could not be separated from social issues and should encourage civic pride and engagement. (Britannica)

This was soon followed by the modernists and their vision for roads to connect everything. The Futurama exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair was hugely popular, helped shape legislation that let to destructive urban renewal projects, interstate highways slicing through cities, etc.  See original 23-minute 1939 Futurama promo video.

Oscar Newman was born in 1935, so he was barely around during the 1939 fair. With the Great Depression & WWII the ideas from Futurama were on hold until he was a teen. Newman likely went along with most others, not foreseeing any problems with additional alterations to the street grid.

By the time republished his 1972 book urban renewal & highway projects had further disrupted the street grid beyond recognition. These changes are cumulative, not isolated. Our street grid was designed for the horse and buggy times — but that’s what made it go great. Street grids can take little changes and still function. St. Louis had decades of massive overwhelming changes to the street grid.

It has proven to be excessive. Abandonment, crime, etc are the results. I don’t know that it’s repairable.

Former Biddle Street, looking East toward 9th Street

The results from Sunday’s non-scientific poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: City streets closed to through traffic reduce crime.

  • Strongly agree: 1 [3.13%]
  • Agree: 2 [6.25%]
  • Somewhat agree: 6 [18.75%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 2 [6.25%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 2 [6.25%]
  • Disagree: 9 [28.13%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [28.13%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [3.13%]

More than half correct don’t think closed streets reduce crime.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Readers: City & County Police Should Merge

January 9, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Readers: City & County Police Should Merge
Tiny north county suburb of Flordell Hills no longer has their own police force, they contract with Velda City.

I thought more people would respond to the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll on merging the City & County police departments.

Q: Agree or disagree: The police departments for the city & county should merge.

  • Strongly agree: 6 [33.33%]
  • Agree: 4 [22.22%]
  • Somewhat agree: 2 [11.11%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [5.56%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 3 [16.67%]
  • Disagree: 1 [5.56%]
  • Strongly disagree: 1 [5.56%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I agree with the criticism of this plan — leaving 53 tiny unaccredited police departments in St. Louis County would be a mistake. I’m a huge fan of major consolidation, reorganization of the region, so it makes sense that I favor a more ambitious approach. That said, I don’t trust Rex Sinquefield or others in pushing for a merger plan.

I just can’t help but think it’ll be more self-serving than good for everyone in the region.

— Steve Patterson

 

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