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No December Preservation Board, Meeting Tonight on Highway 40

There will be no December 2007 meeting of the St. Louis Preservation Board.  Well, technically they will meet by teleconference this week to set up a date for a second meeting in January 2008.  Normally their meetings are held on the 4th Monday of each month, which happens to be Christmas Eve this year.  In these cases, the meeting is often moved up a week.

Tonight (12/17/07), at 6:30pm, a public meeting will be held by traffic engineer Joseph Passanise regarding his opposition to the full shut down of portions of highway 40 through 2009.  This meeting will be at 6:30pm at Maggie O’Brien’s located at 20th and Market (map).   For more information see stophighway40closure.com.  I think I’ll walk the half mile to the meeting rather than take highway 40 to get there.


St. Louis’ Award-Winning “Vacancy to Vibrancy” Now Online (w/Invoice)

Last week I was pretty harsh on the city for “buying” a second so-called World Leadership Award (see post). Well, I did a records request (per Missouri’s Sunshine Law) and have for your weekend reading the “Vacancy to Vibrancy” entry as well as the invoice for £3,000 (a tad over $6,000) to be included on the short list.

Here are a few selections from the entry:

Housing is the key to a sustainable urban environment.

Historic preservation has proven to be the catalyst for the resurgence in the inner city housing market.

Recycling aging buildings is key to a healthy urban environment.

I believe the City of St. Louis strategy “Sustainable Housing Through Preservation” can encourage Mayor’s in the world’s industrialized cities to meet the growing demand for housing by recycling our existing built heritage.

Wow, the mayor seems like he cares about developing sustainable housing and preserving existing structures. In the report, they talk about the energy it takes to build a new building and construct a very good argument for retaining old buildings. Too bad they do things like raze the historic Century Building for a parking garage rather than more housing as proposed by other developers with less influence. Or allowed SLU to raze a historic building for a surface parking lot. The list is long, too long.

The region experienced a 25% increase in the urbanized area, yet population growth was only 6 %. The region ranks 18th in population in the country, but second in land consumption. Land consumption occurred four times faster than our population growth.

Again, quite true. In fact, the report is excellent. Now if only they actually talked publicly about sustainability and acted upon these beliefs rather than on what those with money and influence seek. It should not take me doing an open records request to obtain this information. The full submission is a large PDF file (4.5mb), Vacancy to Vibrancy: Sustainable Housing Through Preservation.

The letter from the World Leadership Awards indicated the city was on the shortlist is dated September 4, 2007. It acknowledge being shortlisted in the “Law & Order” category but our entry was clearly marked for the housing category — I assume this to be a clerical error in the letter.

The letter references some details as well as payment for the “presentation fee”:

Because of difficulties which occurred with several cities last year we have, with great regret, been forced to adopt a stricter policy regarding late payment. If we have not received payment by 14th September, then we may not be able to include your city in the shortlist, which will be published on 20th September 2007.

So unlike competitions where everyone pays an equal registration fee, here they make sure you pay up if you want to be on the shortlist. No money, no shortlist. With 38 entries on this year’s shortlist that is over $228,000. Cities still have to make flight, hotel and transportation arrangements to get their team there to present in person. I’m not sure where in the budget this is funded. Do we have a PR budget? Click here to see the letter and invoice.

Speaking of PR, we had less incorrect BS being spread this year but there was still some misleading facts out there. For example, the Mayor’s announcement about the win included this item:

In his presentation, Slay focused on rebuilding the City through the creation of new housing units and renovating historic buildings. Since 2000, more than 20,000 units have been rehabbed and 4,221 new units have been built in historic buildings, resulting in almost 14,000 new residents of the City.

Really? “Almost 14,000 new residents of the City?” I covered these types of lies back in April when they were twisting original & challenged census numbers around.

Here are the official Census figures:

  • 2000: 348,189
  • 2006: 353,837 (after city challenged the census estimate)

By my math the difference is 5,648. Most likely Slay’s PR folks are playing with numbers again hoping the media will pick it up and not question the source. As in the past, they use the pre-challenge census numbers from years past to compare with a newly revised post-challenge census figure to artificially inflate population.

I personally am quite happy that we’ve stopped losing people, it does not benefit anyone to twist the facts around to make it look like we’ve gained nearly three times as many people as we actually have.


“Clowns” on Jury Award Metro Zip!

The Post-Dispatch is reporting this afternoon that the jury in Metro’s case against four contractors reached a decision — Metro gets nothing out of the $81 million it sought. The contractors counter-suit against Metro? They get not quite half of their requested $6 million — $2.56 million. Ouch, that has to hurt.

Larry Salci, the head of Metro, must be a tad upset. He is probably calling folks more than just clowns. Earlier this month he said of KTVI’s Elliot Davis, “He fits right into St. Louis, he’s a (expletive) clown.” Salci later apologized.

Will this impact voters in St. Louis County in February when they are asked to approve a half cent sales tax to keep Metro solvent as well as raise money to extend the light rail system? Has Salci’s job security changed?

UPDATE 11/30/07 @ 7pm — link to article from St. Louis Business Journal.


Schmid Names All Association Members to Nominating Committee In Marine Villa Neighborhood

It’s been a tough year for Alderman Craig Schmid. The old guard controlling the Cherokee Station Business Association were ousted (see post). Schmid then faced a primary opponent to keep his seat (which he did) and neighbors in the Marine Villa neighborhood, where he serves as President, have been pressuring him on the leadership of the organization.

Neighbors have been pushing for open elections, per the 1969 bylaws they finally got a copy of earlier this year (see post). These bylaws call for the President to create a “Nominating Committee” of an unspecified number of persons. So what does Schmid do? He mails out a letter to all members stating they are all on the nominating committee. He is asking them to mail back to him their nomination.

NominationFormEnv Several things I should note about this, I received copies of these mailings via an anonymous email account. The mailings were sent out in official Board of Alderman envelopes, despite not being official aldermanic business (image at right, click to see larger version in Flickr). Presumably city tax payers bought the envelopes for official business? The mailings were stamped so we don’t really know who funded the postage. Ditto for the return envelopes which had postage affixed.

Despite this questionable use of taxpayer funded materials (envelopes at a minimum) the mailed out form listed all six positions up for nomination. However, it gives the member only one place to nominate for a single office. Must these members run out to Kinko’s to make multiple copies of this form to nominate someone for each office?

One last thing the sender pointed out to me — the materials sent have conflicting boundaries for the neighborhood. The bylaws state Jefferson as the Western boundary and I-55 as the Eastern boundary. However, a flyer for their next meeting on January 28, 2008 indicates California (street) as the Western boundary and the river as the Eastern boundary. Maybe the first order of business at the next meeting might be to nail down those boundaries once and for all?

Click here to view the 3-pages mailed to members (I’ve circled the boundary sections on pages 2 & 3). Their next meeting is on the 28th of January although the flyer doesn’t list the time. Their website says 6:30pm. I’m thinking this will be an interesting meeting to attend.


Dine Out Tomorrow, Raise Money for a Good Cause

November 26, 2007 Events/Meetings, STL Region Comments Off on Dine Out Tomorrow, Raise Money for a Good Cause

Tuesday is the annual Dining Out For Life event held around the world the Tuesday following Thanksgiving.  The event raises money for various organizations in the fight against aids.  In St. Louis:

Dining Out for Life is an international event that has raised over $1 million since 1990 to help Saint Louis EFFORT FOR AIDS provide education on the prevention of HIV/AIDS and comprehensive support services for those affected by the disease. It’s an incredibly important event that not only helps nourish the community…but also the soul. We sincerely hope you’ll dine with us at one of our participating Dining Out For Life restaurants when at least 25% of your check will be donated to support the work of Saint Louis EFFORT FOR AIDS. 

For more information click here.