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New Book — ‘Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades’ by Jim Merkel

September 25, 2020 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — ‘Growing Up St. Louis: Looking Back Through the Decades’ by Jim Merkel

Though I’ve lived in St. Louis for over three decades, I didn’t grow up here. This book is fascinating because you can read stories from over 100 people who did grow up here.

No matter when or where we grow up, the stories, people, and places that populate our memories leave an indelible mark on the manuscript that becomes our life story. A day at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904, meatless meals and hard times during the Great Depression, or knowing Mark McGwire’s precise homerun count that summer of 1998 become galvanized in our own timelines, while other details fade into the background.

In Growing Up St. Louis, hear the stories that stuck with more than a hundred native St. Louisans over the last century, told by the very people who lived through them. Ranging from joyous to humdrum, and even to the grim, these childhood memories offer a glimpse of life in still frame, from the start of the twentieth century to the present day. A young girl is transfixed by the Beatles debut on Ed Sullivan and a future local sportscaster falls in love with sports as he and his dad watch the 1968 World Series.

With new and old photographs to accompany the essays, join veteran author Jim Merkel on a journey through ten decades of coming of age in St. Louis. Whether they spark nostalgia or empathy, they’ll surely provoke commentary about how deeply our tender years impact us for the rest of our lives. (Reedy Press)

I haven’t read all the stories, but I’ve read quite a few. Merkel has done a good job of presenting a variety of people. City & county, black & white, rich & poor, etc.

I can only imagine the stories to be told in 50-60 years about growing up in the 2020s.

— Steve Patterson

 

Our November 3rd Ballot Is Long, Begin Your Research Now

September 23, 2020 Featured, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Our November 3rd Ballot Is Long, Begin Your Research Now
The St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners is on the first floor at 300 N. Tucker (@ Olive)

I’d imagine most of you know how you’ll vote in the upcoming presidential election. There are five tickets for president, but it’s only between two for most voters. But what about the rest of the ballot? Your civic duty doesn’t end with the presidential race.

In-person absentee voting began yesterday, so now is a good time to review the ballot. This post doesn’t include any endorsements, nor do I try to persuade you from voting one way or another. My goal is that each of you makes informed decisions on all items on the ballot — not just the top race or two.

Here are some resources to help you:

Here are the races on our ballot:

  • President & Vice-President
  • Missouri Executive Offices: (Governor, Lt. Gov, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Attorney General)
  • U.S. Representative (this depends on your district. Cori Bush will win district 1 while District 2 is a close race between Ann Wagner & Jill Schupp).
  • State Senator
  • State Representative
  • STL Circuit Attorney
  • STL Sheriff
  • STL Treasurer
  • Retain judges? From state Supreme Court to circuit judges: St. Louis City & St. Louis County
  • CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT 1
    Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to extend the two term restriction that currently applies to the Governor and Treasurer to the Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor and the Attorney General?
    State and local governmental entities estimate no costs or savings from this proposal.
    YES – FOR THE AMENDMENT
    NO – AGAINST THE AMENDMENT
    .
  • CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT 3
    Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to:
    * Ban gifts from paid lobbyists to legislators and their
    employees;
    * Reduce legislative campaign contribution limits;
    * Change the redistricting process voters approved in 2018
    by: (i) transferring responsibility for drawing state legislative districts from the Nonpartisan State Demographer to Governor-appointed bipartisan commissions; (ii) modifying and reordering the redistricting criteria.
    State governmental entities expect no cost or savings. Individual local governmental entities expect significant decreased revenues of a total unknown amount.
    YES – FOR THE AMENDMENT
    NO – AGAINST THE AMENDMENT
    .
  • PROPOSITION D
    Shall the City of St. Louis adopt an ordinance to:
    * establish an open, non-partisan system for elections to the
    offices of Mayor, Comptroller, President of the Board of
    Aldermen, and Alderman
    * enable voters to choose all the candidates they wish in the
    open, non-partisan primary
    * allow the top two candidates to then compete in a runoff
    general election?
    YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION
    NO – AGAINST THE PROPOSITION
    .
  • PROPOSITION 1
    Shall Section 2 of Article VIII of the City of St. Louis Charter, which requires all officers and employees of the City of St. Louis to reside within the City’s boundaries, be amended to permit the employees of the City of St. Louis except for City agency and department directors appointed by the Mayor to reside outside of the City’s boundaries?
    YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION
    NO – AGAINST THE PROPOSITION
    .
  • PROPOSITION R
    Shall the City of St. Louis levy an additional tax of six cents per each one hundred dollars ($100.00) of assessed valuation as authorized by Section 210.860 R.S.Mo. for the purpose of providing additional funding for community children’s services, in particular early childhood services for children aged five years and under, in addition to the current levy of nineteen cents per each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation?
    YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION
    NO – AGAINST THE PROPOSITION
    .
  • PROPOSITION T
    Should Chapter 23 of the Revised Code of the City of St. Louis be amended to impose a gross receipts tax of seven and one half percent of the gross receipts obtained from Telecommunications Providers, which are and include every entity now or hereafter engaged in a general telecommunication business in the City, providing telecommunication, telecommunications exchange, or local, toll, or long distance, telephone service to its customers with a service or billing address within the St. Louis City limits; and Fiber Networks Providers, which are and include every entity now or hereafter engaged in providing fiber networks, built whole or in part in the City’s public right of way, which are not internet or service providers subject to franchise fees, to customers and other users of fiber networks?
    YES – FOR THE PROPOSITION
    NO – AGAINST THE PROPOSITION

Again, I ask that you take the time to look into all the races & ballot questions before you’re voting absentee or in person on November 3rd.

— Steve Patterson

 

 

New Book — ‘Forest Park: A Walk Through History’ by Carolyn Mueller

September 22, 2020 Books, Featured Comments Off on New Book — ‘Forest Park: A Walk Through History’ by Carolyn Mueller

Forest Park, opened in 1876, is larger than NYC’s Central Park. It had already been open over a quarter century when the Word’s Fair opened in 1904 in the park.  Today’s book is a guidebook to help you walk through thr park, exploring the many areas and historic  structures. Because the park is so large the book has eight different walks.

Perched just inside the city, Forest Park has functioned as a proverbial playground for generations of St. Louisans and tourists alike. While you could explore this green expanse of trees and pathways by many modes of transportation, the best way to know its paths and treasures is on foot. With Forest Park: A Walk through History as your guide, you’ll be able to take the time to appreciate the park’s historical markers and natural wonders.

Discover the hills, fields, and winding ribbons of water traversing the park. Find the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. From the monuments to the memorials and the waterfowl to the wildflowers, Kennedy Forest, the Bridge to Picnic Island, and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Local author Carolyn Mueller brings an insider’s perspective after spending a decade living near the park and countless hours exploring its bike paths and running trails. Check out her favorite spots like Kennedy Forest, the Bridge to Picnic Island, and the Saint Louis Zoo, or discover your own as you venture into this crown jewel of St. Louis. (Reedy Press)

I’ve not yet taken the book to Forest Park to follow one of the tours, but with Fall weather I’ll do it soon.

— Steve Patterson

 

Grand Bridge/Viaduct Not Looking So Good After Only Eight Years

September 16, 2020 Featured, Planning & Design, SLU Comments Off on Grand Bridge/Viaduct Not Looking So Good After Only Eight Years

The ribbon for the $20-$30 million Grand bridge/viaduct was cut on August 25, 2012. It looked great that day. Now, eight years later it is not looking so fresh.

August 25, 2012 @ 10:30am
The many planters along both sides that day had lots of plants.
The plants were a wide variety.

On Monday (9/14/2020) I crossed both sides, end to end.

Approaching from the south one light is broken off. The next is just a pole — no top.
Weeds new growing in the cracks, the planters are empty.
The drains are all clogged with trash, etc.
At ome point the entire structure has settled, this means both sidewalks now have a vertical point that exceeds ADA guidelines.
The settlement line is visible in the median as well. The curb here will continue to deteriorate unless repaired.

Ribbon cuttings are appealing to politicians, especially those running for additional terms. Being able to tout millions of dollars in new investment is great for a resume.

Routine maintenance, on the other hand,  isn’t glamorous. The media doesn’t send out a reporter/photographer. So we spend millions building new stuff then fail to maintain it. I think Saint Louis University had originally planted the planters, but they’ve had a change of leadership since.

You may not notice driving across, but this bridge is now an embarrassment. It’s no longer ADA-compliant.

— Steve Patterson

 

St. Louis County Moved Mandatory Beg Button After I Complained About Not Being Able To Reach It

September 10, 2020 Accessibility, Featured, Planning & Design, St. Louis County, Walkability Comments Off on St. Louis County Moved Mandatory Beg Button After I Complained About Not Being Able To Reach It

Buttons used to activate pedestrian signals are derisively called “beg buttons.”

These buttons have long been decried and criticized by advocates for walking, anyway. The buttons’ purpose is less to keep people safe than to reinforce the primacy of cars on the street by forcing people who want to cross a street to “beg” for a walk signal. (California Streetsblog)

In the City of St. Louis many buttons don’t do anything, a walk signal is displayed even if you don’t press it. In June I encountered an intersection in St. Louis County where it was mandatory to press a button to get a walk signal across one street, but not the perpendicular street from the same corner.

On June 3rd I was at the southeast corner of Hanley & Dale Ave, wanting to cross Hanley — but using a wheelchair I couldn’t get to the button.
Looking west across Hanley.

Crossing Dale Ave doesn’t require pressing the beg button, it activates the walk signal in conjunction with the traffic lights. However, if you don’t press the button you’ll never get a walk signal to cross Hanley. Even when Dale traffic gets a green light you’ve got a don’t walk unless you pressed the beg button. Without a walk signal westbound Dale motorists turning left onto southbound Hanley wouldn’t expect to see any pedestrians crossing the street. On June 3rd I had to cross, in my power wheelchair, even though I didn’t have a walk signal.

Thankfully left-turning motorists yielded to me.  I later shared my frustration on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

A friend & reader suggested I call St. Louis County. Though this is in the municipality of Richmond Heights, Hanley is maintained by St. Louis County — a fact she knew. I’m not a fan of making voice calls but I did find a compliant form on their Department of Transportation website. A day or 2 later I got a phone call from a county engineer. I emailed him the photos I took rather than call him back. A few weeks later I got an email saying it had been moved.

Yesterday I went out to the nearby  Trader Joe’s  and another store so I went to this intersection to see the change. I’d suggested the button(s) not be used, just switch to a walk signal timed with the light. So I figured the beg button would still be mandatory, I just wanted to see if I could reach it.

A pole was added to hold the two beg buttons — one mandatory and the other completely useless.
Now looking west across Hanley.

No telling how many years this was like this. It amazes me how often I see situations where someone wasn’t thinking about disabled pedestrians. There are likely many more examples out there.

— Steve Patterson

 

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