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Charter Amendments On General Election Ballot

March 27, 2017 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Charter Amendments On General Election Ballot

A week from tomorrow is the general election in St. Louis.  I already posted about the School Board & Junior College Board races. We all know about the mayor’s race, and some of us live in a ward electing an alderman to a 4-year term. All of us have the following six items on our ballot:

PROPOSITION A AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article XV of the City Charter repealing Sections 4 and 5 and enacting in lieu thereof four new sections, Sections 4, 4a, 4b and 5, the purpose of which is to abolish the Office of Recorder of Deeds and consolidate the functions of that office with that of the Assessor, and place any realized cost savings in a special fund known as “the police body-worn camera fund” dedicated to the purchase and use of police body-worn cameras by the city Metropolitan Police Department subject to appropriation from the fund by the Board of Aldermen for the express purpose of the fund (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

PROPOSITION B AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

A proposed ordinance submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis an amendment to Article II of the City Charter repealing Sections 1, 2 and 3 and enacting in lieu thereof four new Sections 1, 1(a), 2 and 3, the purpose of which is to move the Primary Municipal Election date from March to August and the General Municipal Election date from April to November in even-numbered years, commencing in 2020 and continuing every two years thereafter, and providing for a transition to accomplish those changes (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

PROPOSITION C AMENDMENT TO THE CITY CHARTER (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall Section 4 of Article XVIII of the Charter of the City of St. Louis be amended to add paragraph (f), which provides for the enactment of an ordinance establishing a residents’ preference to residents of the City of St. Louis upon successfully passing a civil service examination for civil service positions with the City?

Section 4. Ordinances to be enacted – The mayor and aldermen shall provide, by ordinance: (f) City Residents’ Preference. For a preference to be granted to residents of the City of St. Louis who successfully pass an examination for a civil service position.

PROPOSITION 1 (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall the City of St. Louis impose a sales tax at a rate of one half of one percent for economic development purposes including (1) North/South Metrolink, (2) neighborhood revitalization, (3) workforce development; (4) public safety, and (5) to upgrade the city’s infrastructure, with annual public audits?

PROPOSITION 2 (Proposed by Ordinance)

Shall the use tax paid by businesses on out-of-state purchases and derived from the one half of one percent increased use tax, which corresponds to approval and levy of an Economic Development Sales Tax in the City of St. Louis, be used for the purposes of minority job training and business development programs, and a portion of construction costs, but not construction cost overruns, of a multipurpose stadium for soccer, local amateur sports, concerts and community events? A use tax is the equivalent of a sales tax on purchases from out-of-state sellers by in-state buyers and on certain taxable business transactions for which a sales tax is not levied. No taxpayer is subject to a sales tax and a use tax on the same transaction. The City shall be required to make available to the public an audited comprehensive financial report detailing the management and use of the portion of the funds each year.

PROPOSITION NS BOND ISSUE ORDINANCE (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

A proposition submitting to the registered voters of the City of St. Louis a proposed Ordinance authorizing and directing the issuance of general obligation bonds of The City of St. Louis, Missouri, not to exceed $40,000,000 principal amount in aggregate (of which no more than $6,000,000 in principal amount shall be issued annually) for the purpose of stabilizing, as limited by the Ordinance, residential properties owned by public entities, as described in the Ordinance, and authorizing the execution of an agreement relating to the expenditure of the sale proceeds of such bonds (the full text of which is available at all polling places).

I agree with the St. Louis American — no on A & B, yes on C.  Still reading pros & cons on the last three.

 

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Municipal Bans On Pit Bulls Remain?

March 26, 2017 Featured, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Municipal Bans On Pit Bulls Remain?
Please vote below

Two weeks ago one local municipality voted to repeal a prior ban on pit bulls:

The Florissant City Council voted Monday night to end the city’s ban on pit bulls and pit bull mixes.

The new ordinance that passed states it “allows pit bull dogs in the city with mandatory spaying and neutering”.

The city council chambers were packed as lots of residents attended to voice their opinion. Extra chairs were brought in, and some residents sat on the floor. (KMOV)

All sides in the debate over pit bulls are passionate — a perfect topic for a Sunday Poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

April 4th Ballot: School Board & Junior College Board

March 24, 2017 Education, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on April 4th Ballot: School Board & Junior College Board

In a little over a week St. Louis voters will return to the polls for the general election — mostly a rubber-stamp of the Democratic nominees selected earlier this month. In addition to propositions that I’ll cover next week, there are two often overlooked nonpartisan races on our ballot (sample): local school board & junior college trustee.

The school board hasn’t been critical for a decade, but that may soon change since the district regained state accreditation:

Many in the education scene are closely watching this particular school board election because the St. Louis elected school board, which has sat by for about a decade with no powers, could regain governance control of the district in the near future.

The elected board was replaced by a three-member appointed board in 2007 after the district lost accreditation. Some expect a transition back to the elected board will happen soon, now that the district proved it’s improving when it was fully accredited by the state last week.

Several education leaders do not wish to part quickly with the appointed board, which has been credited with returning the district to stable ground in terms of leadership, finances and academics. But others argue the district, on democratic principle, needs to be governed locally by an elected board. (Post-Dispatch)

FOR MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION (FOUR-YEAR TERM — VOTE FOR THREE)

  • BILL MONROE
  • NATALIE VOWELL
  • DAVID LEE JACKSON
  • DOROTHY ROHDE-COLLINS
  • BRIAN P. WALLNER
  • JAMES IRA REECE
  • SUSAN R. JONES

For more information on the 2017 school board election see Ballotpedia.

St. Louis Community College at Forest Park

There are three candidates for one seat representing much the city on the regional body overseeing the St. Louis Community College system:

Three candidates have filed for the Subdistrict 2 seat. Incumbent Hattie R. Jackson will not seek re-election. The candidates are Pam Ross, Patrick J. Burke and Ciera Lenette Simril. (STLCC)

FOR TRUSTEE FOR SUBDISTRICT 2 OF THE JUNIOR COLLEGE DISTRICT OF ST. LOUIS – ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI (ST. LOUIS COMMUNITY COLLEGE) (SIX-YEAR TERM — VOTE FOR ONE)

  • PAM ROSS
  • CIERA L. SIMRIL
  • PATRICK J. BURKE

Please take the time to research the candidates in the two races before voting in the April 4th general election.

— Steve Patterson

 

Opinion: Loop Trolley Will Surprise Naysayers

March 22, 2017 Featured, Transportation Comments Off on Opinion: Loop Trolley Will Surprise Naysayers

I’m not a huge fan of vintage/heritage streetcar/trolley lines — I much prefer modern streetcar lines

using 21st century low-floor vehicles (see Kansas City’s streetcar). I have ridden vintage/heritage lines in San Francisco, Little Rock, New Orleans, and Memphis. I wanted to ride the one in Dallas after becoming disabled, but it isn’t wheelchair accessible. The Loop Trolley, in testing now, will be accessible. Lifts will be on all vehicles to help with wheelchairs, strollers, etc. I’d still much rather see a modern streetcar line to reduce car use and increase transit ridership.

So I must agree with just over half the readers in thinking the Loop Trolly will be an expensive flop? Not at all.

December 2014 photo of new housing at Delmar & Hamilton, and renovated building to the North — both just West of the Loop Trolley headquarters

It is true the Loop Trolley won’t make a significant impact on transportation use in the region or even within the Loop.  Public investment in new infrastructure can result in very positive outcomes. The huge investment in the Washington Ave streetscape some 15 years ago is still paying dividends. Many long-vacant warehouses have been occupied for years. The Loop Trolley investment will have a profound impact along the route over the next 15-25 years.

Some say the Loop is already served by MetroLink. Yes, one station is on Delmar. Suppose visitors downtown decide they want to have dinner in the Loop — at The Melting Pot — are they going to walk nearby a mile (8/10ths) from the <MetroLink station to the restaurant and back? Highly unlikely. The Loop Trolly will step in to address the Loop’s last mile problem:

What is public transit’s first-mile/last-mile (FM/LM) problem? It begins with a ¼ mile. Most people in the United States are “comfortable” walking less than a ¼ mile to or from public transit stops. The problem arises when a potential rider is further than a “comfortable distance” to the necessary fixed-route stop. Of course, what you define as a “comfortable distance” may be very different than what I consider to be a “comfortable distance,” and this distance may vary based on uncontrollable variables such as weather and time of day. (Source)

Conversely, the new Loop Trolley will allow people to live car-free in new apartments/condos and get to MetroLink to take them to work West in Clayton or East at BJC, Cortex, SLU, or downtown.

A long-vacant school building is now the headquarters and maintenance facility.
Tracks leading to the storage & maintenance area
The green car over the service pit is a Melbourne car from Seattle, the red car is 001
Another view of the service pit

increase mobility within the Loop, especially to the newer area East of Skinker will increase foot traffic and hopefully reduce vehicular traffic and the associated parking issues.

Q: Agree or disagree: the Loop Trolley will be a costly flop

  • Strongly agree 10 [18.87%]
  • Agree 9 [16.98%]
  • Somewhat agree 8 [15.09%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 1 [1.89%]
  • Somewhat disagree 8 [15.09%]
  • Disagree 8 [15.09%]
  • Strongly disagree 5 [9.43%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 4 [7.55%]

Based on new construction that has already happened I’d say the Loop Trolley is already off to a good start.

 

— Steve Patterson

 

Safety Expert Killed Crossing 4th Street 15 Years Ago Today.

March 20, 2017 Downtown, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on Safety Expert Killed Crossing 4th Street 15 Years Ago Today.

I post often about the poor pedestrian conditions in downtown St. Louis — such as these from last year:

Fifteen years ago this morning a safety expert was killed while walking across 4th street.

ST. LOUIS — A Washington state woman who was one of the country’s top experts on bicycle and pedestrian safety was killed yesterday morning when she was struck by a tour bus while crossing a downtown intersection here.

Susie Stephens, 36, of Winthrop, Wash., was struck shortly after 8:30 a.m. 

The driver of the Vandalia Bus Lines vehicle told police he did not see Stephens as he made a left turn.

Stephens, a consultant, was in St. Louis to help stage a conference on innovative approaches to transportation sponsored by the Forest Service, said William “Bill” Wilkinson of the National Center for Bicycling and Walking in Washington.

Stevens was just a year older than me.

This intersection has been improved, the crosswalk length shortened. However, pedestrians don’t get an advance signal to give them a head start.

There have been numerous events remembering her since she was killed here, this one from 2015 is touching:

The 2015 Stihl Tour des Trees began in Orlando Oct. 25. From there the group cycled 103 miles to Ruskin. Then 70 miles to Sarasota and 93 miles to Punta Gorda. Wednesday morning the group left for the 70 mile ride to Matlacha Park where they planned to plant a Live Oak Tree.

“In the course of this tour we will plant 13 new trees,” DiCarlo said. “Today’s tree is dedicated to Susie Stevens and The Susie Forest. Sadly Susie Stevens was struck and killed by a bus crossing the street in St. Louis in 2002. Her mother, Nancy McCarrow, has been volunteering for many years with the Stihl Tour des Trees planting trees in remembrance of her daughter. We call this collection of trees ‘The Susie Forest’. (Source)

Hopefully the next mayor will take pedestrian experience & safety seriously.

— Steve Patterson

 

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