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St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 25 of 2019-2020 Session

December 6, 2019 Board of Aldermen, Featured Comments Off on St. Louis Board of Aldermen: New Board Bills Week 25 of 2019-2020 Session

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen meet at 10am today, their 25th 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 24.

Today’s agenda includes eight (8) new bills.

  • B.B.#174 – Muhammad – An ordinance establishing a Racial Equity Oversight Committee under the authority of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen to incorporate racial equity into all branches of government in the City of St. Louis.
  • B.B.#175 – Green/Vaccaro/Spencer/Ingrassia/Todd/Rice/
    Navarro/Narayan/Guenther – An ordinance submitting to the qualified voters of the City of St. Louis a proposal to amend the Charter of the City of St. Louis to require, that no public utility as herein may be sold, leased, conveyed, gifted, or otherwise disposed of either in whole or in part, or its management or business operations taken charge of or controlled either in whole or in part by another party pursuant to an agreement with the City unless such agreement has been approved by a majority of the Board of Aldermen by Resolution, and then by a majority of the qualified voters of the City of St. Louis voting thereon at a City-wide election; and containing a severability clause and emergency clause.
  • B.B.#176 – Davis – An Ordinance recommended by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment authorizing and directing the Director of Airports and the Comptroller of The City of St. Louis (the “City”) to enter into and execute on behalf of the City the Third Amendment to Fuel System Lease and Use Agreement AL- 442 to the St. Louis Lambert International Airport® Fuel System containing a severability clause and an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#177 – Clark-Hubbard – An ordinance approving a blighting study and Redevelopment Plan for the 5311-6123 and 5302- 6122 Dr. Martin Luther King Dr. Redevelopment Area.
  • B.B.#178 – Roddy – An ordinance determining that the Tax Increment Financing Plans listed in Exhibit “A” are making satisfactory progress under the proposed time schedule for completion of projects therein.
  • B.B.#179 – Davis – An Ordinance establishing a four-way stop site at the intersection of North Garrison Avenue and Locust Street regulating all traffic traveling northbound and southbound on North Garrison Avenue at Locust Street and regulating all traffic traveling eastbound and westbound on Locust Street at North Garrison Avenue, and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#180 – Davis – An ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any 3:00 a.m. closing permits for any non-3:00 a.m. licensed premises within the boundaries of the Nineteenth Ward Liquor Control District, as established herein, for a period of three years from the effective date hereof; containing exceptions and allowing, during the moratorium period, for the renewal of or transfer of existing licenses, under certain circumstances; and containing an emergency clause.
  • B.B.#181 – Davis – An ordinance repealing Ordinance 70445 and in lieu thereof enacting a new ordinance prohibiting the issuance of any package or drink liquor licenses for any currently non-licensed premises within the boundaries of the Nineteenth Ward Liquor Control District, as established herein, for a period of three years from the effective date hereof; containing exceptions and allowing, during the moratorium period, for the transfer of existing licenses, under certain circumstances, the issuance of a drink license to non-profit corporations at currently non-licensed premises, the issuance of a drink license to persons operating a restaurant at a previously non-licensed premises and the issuance of liquor licenses in a specifically defined area 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


Readers Split on Banning vs. Allowing Outside Smoking

December 4, 2019 Featured, Smoke Free Comments Off on Readers Split on Banning vs. Allowing Outside Smoking

As a kid in the 70s smoking was everywhere. My parents smoked in our home (though not much) and in the car, patrons smoked in restaurants where we ate, and on television people smoked. It just was.

My wake up alarm each morning was my dad’s cough. Born in 1929 & 1931, my parents were part of the Silent Generation (births 1928-1945). This generation was big time smokers.

My mom’s older brother (Greatest Generation) died of lung cancer at age 62. A decade later one of my dad’s younger brothers also died of lung cancer, at 57.

Smoking was just ubiquitous, it was unescapable. Thankfully that has changed, and smoking rates have dropped accordingly.

From two weeks ago:

Cigarette smoking dropped to an all-time low among American adults in 2018, according to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) report released Thursday. According to the report, 13.7% of U.S. adults smoked a cigarette in 2018.

Since the first Surgeon General’s report warned of the health implications of smoking over 50 years ago, cigarette smoking has declined by approximately two-thirds. (CBS News)

My dad was able to quit about 25 years before he died, my mom tried and failed at quitting many times before she died. Neither knew the health risks when they started, but both learned how addictive nicotine is.

No smoking sign on the Washington University Medical School/BJC campus.

I’m sympathetic to smokers, but I can’t tolerate the smoke — especially now that I have kidney cancer. Just stay inside and avoid smokers, right?  Except that I have to take a bus & train to get to treatment.

Occasionally at my local bus stop someone will light up, but they’re usually considerate enough to step away from the rest of us — in a direction so their smoke won’t blow on us. At the Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center the walkways are narrow. Since reopening this location and all Metro properties have been designated smoke-free. People are still adjusting, but more often I see people walk over to 14th Street sidewalk to smoke. Again, this is courteous. As a wheelchair user I’ve got to be at a specific spot so the bus driver knows I want to get on that bus. I must be there — I have no choice.

No smoking sign at the Civic Center MetroBus Transit Center.

Too often groups of riders get off a bus and light up on their way to light rail, ignoring the signs indicating the entire facility is designated smoke-free. Again, the walkways are narrow and others of us are waiting for our bus to arrive. We’re assaulted by a parade of smokers.

The other day I was on the Central West End MetroLink (light rail) platform after visiting my Oncologist and noticed two people smoking as I got to my spot to board the train. A guard was nearby, she quickly talked to them — they left. Our light rail platforms have been smoke-free for decades — but people still think since it’s outside it’s ok.

Once on the train an older guy across the aisle had an unlit cigarette in his mouth. Every minute or two he raised his hands to his mouth like he was going to light it. Highly addicted!

I’m so glad entire campuses are smoke-free. It makes visiting them a joy — not having to push through a crowd of smokers at entrances. Smoking rates in Missouri are still slightly higher than the national average. Yes, tobacco is a legal product. So’s alcohol. Recreational weed will be legal in Illinois in less than a month — but not in public.  People have a right to smoke, but that right doesn’t permit them to force me to inhale their smoke.

For decades the tobacco industry targeted low-income, LGBT, and racial minorities.  These are the groups where smoking is still more common. Industries like construction and food service have higher rates than others. It’s harder for someone surrounded by smokers to quit.

Most parking garages are open to the outdoors, including the 9th Street Garage. Also posted as a no smoking area.

Outside isn’t always big open space, often you get lots of people in a confined space: bus shelter, train platform, building entrance, etc. Nonsmokers have a right to be in these places without having to endure the smoke of others.

It’s not 1960 anymore, smoking isn’t ubiquitous.

Still readers are split on the subject in the recent Sunday Poll — a slight majority favor outside bans:

Q: Agree or disagree: Smoking should be allowed anywhere outside.

  • Strongly agree: 7 [18.42%]
  • Agree: 6 [15.79%]
  • Somewhat agree: 4 [10.53%]
  • Neither agree or disagree: 0 [0%]
  • Somewhat disagree: 5 [13.16%]
  • Disagree: 5 [13.16%]
  • Strongly disagree: 10 [26.32%]
  • Unsure/No Answer: 1 [2.63%]

Local universities do a much better job enforcing smoke-free policies on large campuses than Metro does on relatively small properties. Metro announces their no eating/drinking policy on MetroLink platforms — I’ve yet to hear a similar announcement about not smoking on Metro’s property.

— Steve Patterson


Horrific Conditions At T. E. H. Realty Properties Show Need For Quality Affordable House In St. Louis Region

December 2, 2019 Featured, Real Estate, STL Region Comments Off on Horrific Conditions At T. E. H. Realty Properties Show Need For Quality Affordable House In St. Louis Region

Finding decent housing when you’re low income isn’t easy. Recent news reports on conditions at various apartment complexes, all owned by T.E. H. Realty, throughout the region is proof. If people could live elsewhere, they would.

Southwest Crossing on Saturday afternoon

One is called Southwest Crossing Apartments, located in the Carondelet neighborhood in South St. Louis City:

The 328-unit complex at 7851 Bandero Drive is one of about 10 large complexes owned by T.E.H. Realty in the St. Louis region.

Nearly all of the properties have generated numerous complaints from residents about poor living conditions, and, on the flip side, T.E.H. has filed numerous lawsuits for nonpayment of rent. (Post-Dispatch)

Like you, I’ve been seeing reports about horrible conditions at many apartment complexes. These include:

  • Lack of heat
  • Sewage backup
  • Trash piling up
  • Lack of water

Plus many other complaints that make the units uninhabitable. Tenants that have refused to pay rent in the hope of getting issues addressed have been sued.

Another view of Southwest Crossing

So I wanted to create a comprehensive list for future reference. Most are in North St. Louis County:

  1. Blue Fountain 819 Gustav Ave, St. Louis, MO 63147. Built in 1963.
  2. Bridgeport Crossing 4015 Brittany Cir, Bridgeton, MO 63044. Built in 1959.
  3. Northwinds 9556 Glen Owen Dr, Ferguson, MO 63136. Built in 1964.
  4. Park Ridge 1379 Sharondale Cir, Ferguson, MO 63135 — lost to foreclosure — hopefully the new owners will quickly remedy problems.  Built in 1965.
  5. Pinnacle Ridge 10613 Lookaway Drive Glasgow Village MO 63137. Numerous buildings built in 1964.
  6. Southwest Crossing 7851 Bandero Drive St  Louis, MO 63111. Fourteen buildings built in 1971.
  7. Springwood 9123 Torchlite Ln A, Bel-Ridge MO 63121 — receiver appointed. Seventeen buildings built in 1965.
  8. Windham Chase 12401 Horizon Village Dr, Spanish Lake MO 63138. Built in 1972.

As numerous articles have mentioned, the owners of T.E.H. Realty are in Israel, their U.S. headquarters are in Reading PA. There are likely more in the region that I need to add to the lady above. The Kansas City region is having similar issues with this owner.

An example of a free-market failure.

— Steve Patterson


Sunday Poll: Should Smoking Be Allowed or Banned Outside?

December 1, 2019 Featured, Smoke Free Comments Off on Sunday Poll: Should Smoking Be Allowed or Banned Outside?
Please vote below

We’ve had an indoor smoking ban for a number of years now. For the most part everyone has adjusted.

I’m now spending quite a bit of time visiting Siteman Cancer Center, part of the Washington University School of Medicine. Their campuses have been smoke-free since July 2010.

The university strictly prohibits all smoking and other uses of tobacco products within all university buildings and on university property, at all times.

This policy applies to all, including students, faculty, staff, patients, contractors and visitors.

For the purpose of this policy, “tobacco” is defined to include, but not limited to, any lit cigarette, cigar, pipe, bidi, clove cigarette, electronic cigarette (e-cigarette), personal vaporizer and any other smoking product; and smokeless or spit tobacco, also known as dip, chew, snuff or snus in any form. (Washington University)

Other area universities also have smoke-free campuses.

Today’s poll question applies to campuses but also areas like restaurant patios, transit centers, public parks, etc — outdoor areas either public or privately owned. Good policy or overkill?

This poll will close tonight at 8pm. My thoughts and results on Wednesday morning.

— Steve Patterson


Thankful For Modern Medicine — A Cancer Update

November 29, 2019 Featured, Steve Patterson Comments Off on Thankful For Modern Medicine — A Cancer Update
My favorite color is orange so I’m pleased with the ribbon.

At the end of last month, which happened to be this blog’s 15th anniversary, I also shared that I have kidney cancer.  See 15th Anniversary of UrbanReviewSTL.com; Future Uncertain Due To Cancer Diagnosis. 

Since then I’ve met with my cancer team (Oncologist, nurse coordinator, research coordinator, and social worker) twice. I’ve also seen a urologist, had a number of EKGs, cat scans, and an MRI. My blood has been drawn countless times.

The good news is my future is measured in years, not months. Stage 4 of cancer means it has spread beyond the original source. Mine is continuing to spread, though it hasn’t reached the brain — a place where kidney cancer like to go for. Whew.

A “tumor board” of doctors reviewed my case and the conclusion was rather than surgically remove my left kidney now I should begin immunotherapy and see how my tumors respond to treatment, hopefully stopping them from spreading further. I’ll receive my first treatment Monday, side effects are potentially similar to chemotherapy.

I’m taking part in a clinical trial receiving immunotherapy intravenously every 3 weeks plus a daily pill. Half will take a pill that’s helped with other cancers, the other half will take a placebo. Not even my team will know which group I’m in.

Despite the advancements in cancer treatments, my oncologist doesn’t think I’ll be ever be free of tumors. They hope to get my cancer to a point where it can be considered a chronic condition, giving me years of decent life.

When I had my massive hemorrhagic stroke in February 2008 I was certain I was going to die there on my cold floor. The one thing I didn’t do was suddenly become religious — yes, there are atheists in foxholes! But I blacked out so my time thinking about death was short.

Lately I’ve spent weeks thinking about death — my death. I’ve finally completed a  healthcare power of attorney. I’ve resumed working on the will I began in 2010. It’s still years away, but the clock is ticking.

Though some have suggested it, I’m still not turning to religion. Instead, I’ve looked to more enlightened views. One is the late Carl Sagan, who died at age 62 of cancer-related pneumonia:

As an atheist I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have a fear of it like people in this video.

Words and phrases I don’t use include:

  • Rest in peace (RIP).
  • He’s in a better place.
  • Meet his maker.

No rest, just dead. That’s it, finished. In 2010 I’d arranged to have my body donated to Washington University’s School of Medicine for research, so no body to deal with. No viewing, no funeral.

For me it’s important to make the most of my remaining years. For this I frequently turn to James Taylor’s words:

The secret of life
Is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it,
There ain’t nothing to it.
Nobody knows how we got
To the top of the hill.
But since we’re on our way down,
We might as well enjoy the ride.
The secret of love
Is in opening up your heart.
It’s okay to feel afraid,
But don’t let that stand in your way.
‘Cause anyone knows
That love is the only road.
And since we’re only here for a while,
Might as well show some style.
Give us a smile.
Isn’t it a lovely ride?
Sliding down, gliding down,
Try not to try too hard,
It’s just a lovely ride.
Now the thing about time
Is that time isn’t really real.
It’s just your point of view,
How does it feel for you?
Einstein said he
Could never understand it all.
Planets spinning…
See the video here. Though my life has been different than I imagined it would be decades ago, I’ve mostly enjoyed the passage of time.  I’ve got a list of future events I’m looking forward to:
  • January 2021: the 46th president being sworn into office (hopefully)
  • August 2023: my husband’s 40th birthday
  • June 2024:  our 10th wedding anniversary
  • October 2024: this blog’s 20th anniversary
  • February 2027: my 60th birthday
At this point I’m not optimistic about anything beyond those. That’s ok, even if I were to die tomorrow I’ve been happy with my life and my accomplishments. I’ve had more time than many.
Earlier this month Broadway star Laurel Griggs died of an asthma attack at age 13. Many St. Louis youth have died this year.  These young people missed out on so many experiences.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs was just 56 when he died of pancreatic cancer. In 1989 comedian/actress Gilda Radner lost her long battle with ovarian cancer, she was only 42. Musician Bob Marley was just 36 when he died of skin cancer in 1981.
The next update will be at the end of December. By then I’ll have had two treatments and will know the side effects.
As the headline indicates, I’m thankful for modern medicine.
— Steve Patterson