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Reader Consensus: No Leniency For Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger

August 7, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Reader Consensus: No Leniency For Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger
From Steve Stenger’s campaign website

Friday Steve Stenger will learn his fate.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry will sentence Stenger on Aug. 9 — federal guidelines call for three to nearly four years in federal prison, although Perry is free to ignore the guidelines and the memos.

Stenger pleaded guilty in May to funneling county business to a campaign donor, John Rallo, in exchange for thousands of dollars in contributions. Rallo has also pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme and will be sentenced in October. (St. Louis Public Radio)

The feds are seeking the maximum sentence possible. Meanwhile…

Steve Stenger’s attorneys paint the former St. Louis County executive as remorseful for the fraudulent actions that led to his federal indictment on three charges, arguing that Stenger deserves no more than the minimum time of 37 months in prison in a memo filed Sunday. (Post-Dispatch)

So the 37 months requested falls at the low end of the guidelines. Will Judge Perry make it closer to 4 years, more, less? We’ll find out Friday.

In the years I’ve been doing these non-scientific Sunday Polls I can’t recall another instance where all participants agreed. Usually about 15% have the opposite view of the majority, occasionally there’s a close split.

This time it was unanimous — no leniency!

Q: Agree or disagree: Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger should be shown leniency when sentenced later this week.

  • Strongly agree: 0 [0%]
  • Agree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat agree: 0 [0%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [3.03%]
  • Disagree: 5 [15.15%]
  • Strongly disagree: 27 [81.82%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 0 [0%]

I was in Judge Perry’s courtroom in 2007 when she sentenced a friend — he did get leniency.

— Steve Patterson

 

My Favorite Grocery Store In The City of St. Louis: ALDI Gravois Plaza

August 5, 2019 Featured, Planning & Design, Retail Comments Off on My Favorite Grocery Store In The City of St. Louis: ALDI Gravois Plaza

I remember my first time entering an ALDI grocery store. It was the early 90s, I’d just moved to St. Louis and was looking for work. They were hiring for management positions. So I went to the location that was on the southeast corner of Jefferson & Lafayete.

The interior lighting was awful, the packaged food all contained questionable ingredients, and they only accepted cash  — not even debit cards. The management positions required relocation, which didn’t interest me. I also wasn’t interested in becoming a shopper.

In the late 90s or so living in Dutchtown & Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods I would occasionally shop at the ALDI on South Grand (1992) or Gravois near Kingshighway (1997), though what I’d buy was very limited.  I’d usually shop at the Shop-n-Save at Gravois Plaza, or the Schnucks at Loughborough Commons.

Then in late 2007 I moved to Downtown West and, in early 2008, had a massive stroke. In  February 2013 my then-boyfriend moved in with me — we needed more food on a budget.

Over the last few years I’ve become a huge fan of German  grocery store chain ALDI. Because of their limited selection it’s not the only place we buy groceries, but we go once a month to stock up. Each week is a big stock up trip: ALDI, Trader Joe’s, Costco, Target. In between I get a few items at Culinaria 2-3 times per week.   Yesterday was the first weekend of the month, so I went to ALDI.

The nearest ALDI to our apartment is at Natural Bridge & Grand (1999). I’ve shopped there once in the last year. It was ok. I’ve also  been to the ALDI in Jennings a few times. However, usually I would drive to the newer ALDI at Delmar & Kingshighway (2013).

When Shop-n-Save closed up all their remaining locations (2017) I wondered how long that space would stay vacant. A few years earlier the ALDI on Grand wanted to take over the former McDonald’s location, closing the street between them, so they could build a new store. Thankfully they weren’t allowed to close Phillips Place.

So it was no surprise when ALDI announced they were taking part of the former Shop-n-Save location. When I first went to the new location after it opened I was very glad it adopted their new interior design that we’d seen in a newish ALDI in St. Louis County.

In older ALDI stores produce is hidden in a back corner far from the entrance. Their new design puts it right up front.
The black ceiling and LED lighting give a much more upscale appearance.

While the new location is a very pleasant shopping experience, getting here isn’t easy for pedestrians. Most weeks we do our bulk shopping together with our car. There have been weeks, depending upon my husband’s work schedule,  where I use transit to get essentials. If that occurs on an ALDI week/weekend, I’ll have to go back to Kingshighway & Delmar. I’ve posted before how Gravois Plaza has zero ADA-compliance accessible routes from public sidewalks to any building on site. The newish Wendy’s is the only exception.

Red arrows show the many pedestrian routes with no provisions, the one green arrow is for the Wendy’s. Click map above to see December 2013 post

The previous ALDI was great for pedestrians, right up to the sidewalk with a bus stop right out front on the busy #70 bus.

The now-closed ALDI at 3701 S. Grand.

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This is the corner of the old Shop-n-Save where ALDI is now located. October 2014 photo
In December 2018 the corner blocks had been removed.
In February 2019 the corner began resembling other ALDI stores.
We first shopped at the new ALDI on March 27, 2019

Even though it’s my favorite favorite grocery store, for now, it is not perfect. Most ALDI stores have disabled parking next to the building, allowing us to walk into the store without needing to cross a busy drive. Here the disabled parking is out front — meaning I must cross the main drive for the entire shopping center. When exiting the store and going to our car with a cart I have to work really hard to keep the cart from dragging me into the drive/lot faster than I can walk — the slope doesn’t appear that drastic, but it is. So I have to walk slower across the drive.

The store is still compact compared to other supermarkets, but this ALDI feels more spacious than older ALDI locations. Yesterday afternoon it was very busy. We even saw at least six Instacart food delivery shoppers in the store!  That’s one way to get around trying to access the store as a pedestrian/transit user.

We’ve been very pleased with everything we’ve bought — except cold dill pickles in the deli case. I still have to read labels as some items still contain high-fructose corn syrup. Very glad they accept all major credit cards and have ApplePay at registers.  Hopefully at some point pedestrian access will be retrofitted at Gravois Plaza.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Should Steve Stenger Get Leniency When Sentenced Friday?

August 4, 2019 Crime, Featured, Politics/Policy, St. Louis County, Sunday Poll Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Steve Stenger Get Leniency When Sentenced Friday?
Please vote below

Former St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger will be sentenced on Friday in a pay-to-play scheme. From April 30, 2019:

St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger, a target of a yearlong undercover federal investigation into political favors traded for campaign contributions, was indicted by a grand jury Thursday on charges of theft of honest services.

The indictment was unsealed Monday as Stenger resigned in a letter to County Counselor Peter Krane, writing that “it is in the best interest of our County and my family.” (Post-Dispatch)

By the end of that week Stenger entered a guilty plea, he’d just be re-elected to a second term in November.

U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry will sentence Stenger on Aug. 9 — federal guidelines call for three to nearly four years in federal prison, although Perry is free to ignore the guidelines and the memos. (St. Louis Public Radio)

In addition to resigning the office, Stenger has given up his law & accountant licenses. Today’s poll is to see how readers feel about sentencing.

Today’s poll will close at 8pm.

—Steve Patterson

 

2017 Book — ‘Lost Treasurers of St. Louis’ by Cameron Collins

August 2, 2019 Books, Featured Comments Off on 2017 Book — ‘Lost Treasurers of St. Louis’ by Cameron Collins
On the shelf at Apotheosis Comics & Lounge

Today’s book isn’t new, it came out two years ago.  I saw ‘Lost Treasurers of St. Louis’ by Cameron Collins in late April at Apotheosis Comics & Lounge, after we had dinner Meskerem Ethiopian next door. Both on South Grand.  At home I confirmed I hadn’t received a copy, so I emailed my contact at Reedy Press asking for a review copy. Boy I’m glad I did!

This month marks 29 years that I’ve lived in St. Louis, so while I didn’t go to high school here I do have nearly three decades of memories. This book helps me remember places I’ve either experienced in person or heard about from others. Few local books have brought me so many hours of joy.

A kaleidoscope of bygone places, events, and items once identified with the Gateway City, Lost Treasures of Saint Louis captures the essence of cherished times that still resonate with St. Louisans. Lost Treasures celebrates dancing to Ike and Tina at the Club Imperial, Bowling for Dollars at the Arena, taking in movies at Ronnie’s Drive-In, and myriad other pastimes enjoyed through the years. Rarely seen photos and artifacts revive eateries like Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria and the Crystal Palace, entertainment and sports attractions like the Goldenrod Showboat and Sportsman’s Park, retail stores like Famous-Barr and Scruggs, Vandervoot and Barney, community establishments like Cleveland High School and St. Bridget of Erin Church, and locally manufactured products like Mavrakos Candy and Falstaff Beer. Gone but not forgotten, all of the subjects featured elicit nostalgia and also reveal how the past has shaped our city. (Reedy Press)

The main organization is as follows:

  • Food & Drink
  • Entertainment
  • Retail
  • Media
  • Community

Each of those have numerous subcategories.

My review copy

The older restaurants are ones that either closed before I moved to St. Louis, or I didn’t eat there before they closed.  Here are the ones in the book I did patronize at least once:

  • 94th Aero Squadron
  • Rossino’s (I thought it was a basement fire trap, but I loved the food)
  • Duff’s
  • Del Pietro’s House of Pasta
  • Shakey’s Pizza Parlor (Not in STL, but I remember eating at a Shakey’s in Oklahoma City in the 70s)
  • Dierdorf & Hart’s
  • Miss Hulling’s Cafeteria
  • The Parkmoor
  • Naugles
  • Lemmon’s

Others in the book that I really wish I’d tried include The Salad Bowl and Beffa Brothers Cafeteria.

From the ‘Entertainment’ section there are fewer that I’ve visited. I always meant to go to National Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame, but I just didn’t get there before it closed & moved. I do think I went bowling once at Western Bowl that was at 4041 Bingham. I recall others before they were replaced by Walgreens.

None of the pools & roller rinks resinate with me. I’ve heard of the various amusement parks, but they were before my time. As far as ‘Attractions’ I recall seeing The National Coin-Op and Video Game Museum on Laclede’s Landing years ago. I also remember passing ‘The Elvis is Alive Museum’ in Wright City.

Oh ‘Excursion Boats’ is an area where I have regrets. I know by the time it was a casino The Admiral was no longer what it was back in the day — but why didn’t I go on it just once?

The ‘Nightclubs & Music Venues’ is another where most were before my time. Mississippi Nights was open until 2007, but I never went. I recall the Castle Ballroom building before it was razed.

The ‘Movie Theaters & Drive-Ins’ section includes many I’ve heard of or seen the outside of the building. I  recall seeing the Ambassador Theater  as it was being torn down, I pass by the Loew’s Orpheum Theater weekly.

In ‘Sports Venues’ I so wish I’d gone to something…anything…at The Arena. I’d love a time machine to go back and see a baseball game at Sportsman’s Park. While I have biked at the velodrome in  Penrose Park, the wooden St. Louis Motordrome that was at Grand & Meramec was gone long before I was born.

I’m a fan of food and grocery stores so the ‘Markets, Delis, & Grocers’ section is of particular interest. I’d heard of Bettendorf’s many times, but I don’t recall hearing about Rapp’s. I now live just blocks from the National Supermarkets where I shopped when I lived in Old North in the early 90s.

There are many more sections, all with great photos. You get the idea though, hours of great memories. This gorgeous hardcover coffee table book can be purchased directly from St. Louis publisher Reedy Press, St. Louis bookstore Left-Bank Books, from  Apotheosis Comics (if they still have it), and from you know where.  The latter has a nice preview.

Note that none of the links in this post are affiliate links — I make zilch if you click them.

— Steve Patterson

 

Readers Split on Halloween Last Saturday vs. 31st

July 31, 2019 Featured Comments Off on Readers Split on Halloween Last Saturday vs. 31st
We used to decorate the hall outside our loft door, we’ve yet to decide how to decorate at our new apartment.

For many, especially those of us who are atheist — or at least non-Christian, Halloween is a secular holiday. Yet, Halloween’s origins are rooted in Christianity:

Halloween precedes the holy observance of All Saints Day on Nov. 1. In ancient days, All Saints Day was known as All Hallows and the day before was All Hallows Eve. Over the years, the name was shortened to Halloween. (Seattle Times)

Here is more detail about All Saints Day:

In Western Christianity, it is celebrated on 1 November by the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Lutheran Church, the Reformed Church, and other Protestant churches. The Eastern Orthodox Church and associated Eastern Catholic Churches and Byzantine Lutheran Churches celebrate it on the first Sunday after Pentecost. Oriental Orthodox churches of Chaldea and associated Eastern Catholic churches celebrate All Saints’ Day on the first Friday after Easter. (Wikipedia)

So in the west this Christian holiday is November 1st, but in the east Christians celebrate it the Friday after their Easter. Got it.

To non-Christians worldwide Halloween is October 31st, or the Saturday before if that’s more convenient.

We attend an annual Halloween fundraiser birthday party, lots of fun, great costumes. The price of admission to the party is a donation to the charity the host selects. Even though the party is a Halloween-themed birthday party for someone born on the 31st — it’s held the last Saturday of October. When Halloween is on a week night we’re in bed at our usual time, not out partying.

The Halloween & Costume Association is pushing a Last Saturday petition to President Trump stating:

It’s time for a Safer, Longer, Stress-Free Celebration! Let’s move Halloween to the last Saturday of October!

  • 3,800 Halloween-related injuries each year. Talk to your kids about safety before they head out!
  • 82% of parents don’t use high visibility aids on their costume, be sure to incorporate reflective tape, glow sticks, finger lights or light up accessories
  • 63% of children don’t carry a flashlight while they are tick-or-treating. Grab a clip-on light if they don’t want to carry one! Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween. Discuss safety, pre-plan a route, stay on sidewalks and use crosswalks
  • 65% of parents don’t discuss Halloween safety with their children. Talk with your kids and offer ways to ensure a fun and safe experience
  • 70%of parents don’t accompany their children trick-or-treating. You’re never too old to trick-or-treat! Grab a costume and take advantage of some good ol’ fashioned family bonding!
  • 51% Of Millennials say Halloween is their favorite holiday, why cram it into 2 rushed evening weekday hours when it deserves a full day!?!

Uh, what’s Trump going to do change the date of Halloween via Tweet or Executive Order? Halloween isn’t a federal holiday.

Decorations on our former balcony door

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

Q: Agree or disagree: Halloween should be moved from October 31st to the last Saturday in October.

  • Strongly agree: 2 [8%]
  • Agree: 3 [12%]
  • Somewhat agree: 3 [12%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 4 [16%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 1 [4%]
  • Disagree: 2 [8%]
  • Strongly disagree: 9 [36%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [4%]

I say keep it technically the 31st but plan events (neighborhood trick or treating, party, etc) on the last Saturday. No matter when don’t drive buzzed, and make sure kids have reflective costumes.

— Steve Patterson

 

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