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St. Louis Lambert International Airport Needs An Open Regional Approach, Not Private Shareholders

January 15, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, STL Region, Transportation Comments Off on St. Louis Lambert International Airport Needs An Open Regional Approach, Not Private Shareholders

Recently St. Louis Mayor  Lyda Krewson announced the process to consider bids to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport, which began with her predecessor, was dead. To many of us this was a good thing.

This dawn photograph of the Lambert Main Terminal was taken in June 1956, less than 4 months after its opening. Photograph by Ralph D’Oench, Missouri Historical Society Collections

Whenever I’d post about airport privatization a reader would post a comment like this:

What the vast majority of people who oppose privatization don’t know is that — in spite of the airport bringing in significantly more revenue than expenses — the City of St. Louis only gets roughly $6 million towards general revenue.

The 1994 FAA reauthorization bill banned airports from taking airport revenue and using it for non-airport uses. St. Louis is one of about a dozen airports which were grandfathered in, but are limited to the amount of money they took at that time, adjusted for inflation.

If the airport were privatized, all revenues from the lessor would be able to go towards general revenue — which would be significantly more than the $6 million a year today.

So basically this is preventing St. Louis from pulling too much money out of the airport, requiring most revenue to service airport debt and to reinvest.

Privatization would enable more money to be siphoned out of the airport — money the winning bidder would cheerfully send to their shareholders, out of state/country home office, donate to friendly politicians, and pay former politicians working as consultants. The city would also get more revenue for new trash trucks, etc.  Would private management at the airport enable it to generate more revenue than it currently does to offset the money leaving the airport? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Airports are important to the region they serve. The City of St. Louis is a small part of the region — both population and land area. Decisions made about the airport should place the interests of the region ahead of shareholders.

Airports, it seems, are the new convention centers — pressure to keep up with others. A recent story on this:

The average airport in the U.S. is now 40 years old, and experts estimate $128 billion in new investment is needed over the next five years just to keep up with the growing number of flyers.

Van Cleave asked Barnes, “Things stay the way they are now, will a traveler’s experience at U.S. airports get better or worse in the years to come?”

“Quite frankly, we think it’ll get worse,” she replied.

That fear has led to a nationwide building boom, with major overhauls in progress at nearly 50 airports – including Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City. (CBS News)

Our airport an important asset for the city & region. Rather than go down the privatization route, the city & region need to have open dialog about what we want from our airport, set goals. Then we need brainstorming on ways to achieve these goals.

Not a backdoor process designed to enrich the few players. We need to reach a consensus on the problems and possible solutions. Not sure this is even possible in our city/region.

Here are the non-scientific results of the recent Sunday Poll:

Q: Agree or disagree: Mayor Krewson should not have abruptly ended the privatization process without first reviewing some bids.

  • Strongly agree: 2 [9.52%]
  • Agree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Somewhat agree: 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [4.76%]
  • Disagree: 5 [23.81%]
  • Strongly disagree: 11 [52.38%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I’m glad the process stopped when it did because I can hear elected officials saying “It’s too late to stop now” has it continued. Remember, always follow the money.

— Steve Patterson

 

Eads Bridge Remains Inaccessible Years After Arch Project “Completed”

January 13, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, Walkability Comments Off on Eads Bridge Remains Inaccessible Years After Arch Project “Completed”

Thursday last week I decided to go see the level of the Mississippi River before we began getting rains and localized flooding. The best view is from the pedestrian walkway on the south side of the Eads Bridge top deck. I knew there had been accessibility issues at the west end of the sidewalk, but the I’d seen some asphalt had been put down to lessen the problem.

The loaner wheelchair I’m using couldn’t get over the huge gap.

So I had to stand up and, while not falling, drag the chair up onto the sidewalk by pulling on each front caster, alternating from left to right. Someone saw me and came to help when I was nearly finished.

This is the view as I approached. The steel plate and asphalt are more recent, but now ineffective.
If we step back across Memorial Drive we see barricades have been placed to physically prevent anyone from going from the Eads to Arch grounds, or vice versa.

It seems a contractor on the Arch project accidentally busted into the MetroLink light rail tunnel beneath the Eads Bridge/Washington Ave. Since Metro owns the bridge & tunnel it’s up to them to get it fixed.

Let’s take a look at my older photos, in reverse order.

May 31, 2019. A steel plate covered the gravel but no asphalt yet to get up
May 2, 2019
April 1, 2019
March 16, 2019
May 7, 2017 is my oldest photo of the problem. This is when I began conversations with various officials about being able to access the pedestrian walkway in my wheelchair.

So this problem is about three years old at this point. Three years!

I did get to see the river level last week, but it took far more effort than it should have.

As Spring flooding season begins I’d like to get regular photos to show how water is approaching and eventually covering Lenore K. Sullivan Blvd.   I live close by so this shouldn’t be the issue it is.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

Sunday Poll: Was the Airport Privatization Process Ended Too Soon?

January 12, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Was the Airport Privatization Process Ended Too Soon?
Please vote below

Last month St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the effort to privatize St. Louis Lambert International Airport was over.

Krewson’s surprise decision followed almost three years of controversy over the possibility of farming out all operations of the airport, which is owned by the city, to private managers. Proponents said such a deal could pay the city hundreds of millions of dollars. Opponents said the city was selling out to private interests, and doing it behind closed doors.

Friday’s announcement brought quick accolades and criticism. Comptroller Darlene Green, a long-standing opponent of privatization, said the airport is well managed and the mayor did the right thing. (Post-Dispatch)

On Friday Lewis Reed, President of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen, spoke up.

Reed, in his first public comment on Krewson’s Dec. 20 announcement declaring privatization dead, said that the city first should have sought, received and reviewed bids from some of the teams of companies competing for a privatization deal.

“I don’t think we had any information to make a clear and final decision,” Reed said in an interview. “It would have been good to at least see what the proposals looked like. We would have gotten good information from that, whether we moved forward or not.”

Krewson, in abruptly ending the city’s exploration of privatizing Lambert, had cited criticism from residents, business leaders and other elected officials. (Post-Dispatch)

This is the subject of today’s poll:

This poll will close at 8pm tonight.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 27 of 2019-2020 Session

January 10, 2020 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 27 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 27th meeting of the 2019-2020 session. As previously noted, they have the first two meetings labeled as Week #1, so they list this as week/meeting 26.

Today’s agenda includes four (4) new bills.

  • B.B.#187 – Arnowitz – An Ordinance authorizing and directing the Director of the Department of Human Services, to accept a Grant Award from the St. Louis Community Foundation in the amount of $26,000 for the current fiscal year and to expend those funds for the City of St. Louis “You Matter! Appropriating such funds and authorizing the Director of the Department of Human Services, upon approval of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, to expend such funds as permitted by the Grant Award Agreement; and containing an Emergency Clause.
  • B.B.#188 – Davis – An ordinance recommended and approved by the Airport Commission, the Comptroller and the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, making certain findings with respect to the transfer of up to $13,727,769 of excess moneys that The City of St. Louis, the owner and operator of St. Louis Lambert International Airport, to be used to make funds available to mitigate rates on an annual basis during the term of the Airport Use and Lease Agreement commencing July 1, 2016; containing a severability clause; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#189 – Ingrassia/Spencer/Middlebrook – An ordinance prohibiting the carrying of concealed firearms by persons who are subject to a restraining order or who have been convicted of misdemeanor crime of domestic violence as provided in this ordinance, and the firearm such person is in receipt of has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce as prohibited by Title 18, Section 922g (8) and (9) of the United States Code; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#190 – Vaccaro – An Ordinance establishing a four-way stop site at the intersection of Oleatha Avenue and January Avenue regulating all traffic traveling northbound and southbound on January Avenue at Oleatha Avenue and regulating all traffic traveling eastbound and westbound on Oleatha Avenue at January Avenue, and containing an emergency clause.

The meeting begins at 10am, past meetings and a live broadcast can be watched online here. See list of all board bills for the 2019-2020 session — the new bills listed above may not be online right away.

— Steve Patterson

 

It’s Time To End Twice Per Year Clock Changes

January 8, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on It’s Time To End Twice Per Year Clock Changes
Sunrise at the YMCA sign at 16th & Locust, April 2013 photo

All over the United States there’s an effort to end changing our clocks twice per year.

From August 2019:

So far this year, at least 36 states have introduced legislation to end or study the practice, more than any year before. Some bills call for all-year standard time, but most endorse permanent daylight saving time — which would result in an extra hour of evening sunlight for more of the year in exchange for a delayed sunrise in the winter.

The issue has played out on social media with the hashtags #DitchTheSwitch and #LockTheClock, and it has pitted recreational businesses that would benefit from longer days, like golf courses, against groups that worry about the danger of darker mornings, such as parent-teacher associations. (NBC News)

Eight months of the year, first Sunday in March through first Sunday in November, we’re in Daylight Saving Time (DST)— an hour ahead of standard time.

The federal government gives states two options:

  1. Change clocks twice per year
  2. Observe Standard Time all year.

Observing Daylight Saving Time all year isn’t an option.

States Arizona & Hawaii have chosen #2 — to observe Standard Time all year.

The recent non-scientific Sunday Poll wasn’t very popular, but that’s ok.

Q: Agree or disagree: The federal government shouldn’t let states opt out of 2x per year Daylight Saving Time (DST) clock changes.

  • Strongly agree: 4 [22.22%]
  • Agree: 3 [16.67%]
  • Somewhat agree: 1 [5.56%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [5.56%]
  • Disagree: 5 [27.78%]
  • Strongly disagree: 4 [22.22%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I’m personally in favor of ending the twice per year clock changes. I think I’d tend to favor DST all year over 12 months of Standard Time.

However, it’s not just one or the other. Some suggest DST, for 8 or 12 months, is bad.

Daylight saving time (DST) eliminates bright morning light that’s crucial to synchronizing your biologic clock, possibly putting people at increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other harmful effects of sleep deprivation, said Dr. Beth Ann Malow, director of the Sleep Disorders Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. (WebMD)

Maybe it’s good that DST all year isn’t an option?

— Steve Patterson

 

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