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Opinion: Wholesale Demolition Has Not Served St Louis Well, Yet Many Still Think It Is The Solution

May 23, 2018 Featured, Media, Planning & Design Comments Off on Opinion: Wholesale Demolition Has Not Served St Louis Well, Yet Many Still Think It Is The Solution

I applaud KMOV’s Doug Vaughn for raising questions about the appearance of the riverfront to the north & south of the Arch grounds. Yes, we can and should improve these areas.

If you’re  unfamilar, see the following three Doug Unplugged videos:

  1. Urban Decay
  2. We can preserve historic buildings and still revitalize the riverfront
  3. Clean up the eyesores

Vaughn repeatedly used the term “eyesore” which is highly subjective. It means “something unpleasant to look at”Different people can see the same thing very differently. What Vaughn views as unpleasant I see as beautiful, historic, with great potential.

While I agree a problem exists, I strongly disagree as to the best solution to solve the problem(s).

Vaughn’s proposal is tear down what exists and plant grass.  This is been St. Louis’ answer for well over a century, we’ve been tearing down our city for generations. Luther Ely Smith, who has a square named after him in front of KMOV’s building, was the one who championed the project that would erase 40 city blocks of our city’s origins. He was also instrumental in hiring Harland Bartholomew, who spent decades tearing down many hundreds pf acres of St. Louis, ignoring calls for commuter rail to the new suburbs, and making a car a requirement. Bartholomew famously miscalculated the impact of his massive tear down and rebuilding projects — population dropped rather than increase, as he had thought.

KMOV’s Doug Vaughn wants to continue generations of removing the old from view. Yet it’s the renovation of the old that we celebrate today and has been shown to boost population. Forty years ago Vaughn would’ve spoken in favor of razing Union Station  — it was such a vacant eyesore it was used in the filming of the post-apocalyptic film Escape From New York.

The beauty of Carl Milles’ work with Union Station in the background

Thirty years ago Vaughn likely would’ve advocated razing all the vacant warehouses just West of the downtown business district, the streets around these had also been in the 1981 film. Thankfully few were razed, and most have been converted into condos & apartments. It took the city investing in narrowing Washington Ave. to get long-stalled loft projects off the drawing boards and under construction. Private investors needed to see the city was committed. Once they saw the commitment, they invested.

Formerly vacant eyesores now fully occupied, Washington Ave at 16th
A 2011 interior photo of our loft, where I’ve lived for over a decade.

The North & South riverfronts have had no such commitment from the city. In fact, the city has repeatedly sent the message to investors the North riverfront is expendable. You can’t blame developers for not investing in an area the city doesn’t care about.

In one “unplugged’ segment Vaughn suggested tearing down the old elevated railroad trestles.

Doug Vaughn is obviously unaware these elevated rail lines are still in use. Yes, the auto lanes on top of the old MacArthur Bridge has been abandoned since 1981 — but the rail level is used daily by freight and Amtrak. . The bridge and elevated lines are owned by the Terminal Railroad Association — acquired in an exchange for the Eads Bridge. These rusty old trestles are part of what I love about St. Louis. Their repetition is pleasing to my eye, the shadows they cast intriguing.

Razing and planting grass hasn’t worked yet for St. Louis yet those without vision who like vinyl-clad boxes with faux “shutters” too small to cover adjacent windows continue to advocate this failed strategy. Sadly, for too long people have listened. Our city & region can’t afford to continue listening to those who espouse a tired failed strategy.

Each Sunday’s poll typically gets about 32 votes — plus or minus 20% depending upon the topic. I could tell right away the recent non-scientific Sunday Poll was being hijacked but I decided to let it go — I wanted to see how far they’d go to defend failed ideas — and I wanted the ad revenue.

Q: Agree or disagree: KMOV’s Doug Vaughn is right, the old vacant buildings on the North & South riverfront should be torn down.

  • Strongly agree 120 [65.57%]
  • Agree 23 [12.57%]
  • Somewhat agree 13 [7.1%]
  • Neither agree or disagree 2 [1.09%]
  • Somewhat disagree 3 [1.64%]
  • Disagree 7 [3.83%]
  • Strongly disagree 15 [8.2%]
  • Unsure/No Answer 0 [0%]

The vote total in 12 hours was 183 — 571% more than usual for a typical week of regular readers. Clearly someone orchestrated a campaign to get the results that support their view.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a “preservationist.” I’m an urbanist — someone who loves urban environments,  which is best when it’s a mix of old & new. The North & South riverfronts could be incredible neighborhoods — if we renovate the remaining buildings and fill in the holes with new construction. Perhaps we can organize a charrette to brainstorm a vision for these areas beyond…grass.

— Steve Patterson

 

Some Local Media Confused On Write-In vs Independent Candidacy

March 17, 2017 Featured, Media, Politics/Policy Comments Off on Some Local Media Confused On Write-In vs Independent Candidacy
Vintage photo of the former offices of the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners. From my collection

Late last week new state rep Bruce Franks Jr. was considering a run for mayor as a write-in candidate, but half a day later he decided not to leave the 78th district that elected him to replace Penny Hubbard.

Today’s post isn’t about Franks or the mayoral race — it’s about write-in vs independent candidates. Some local media understands the difference, some do not.  Below are three reports when Franks was considering a write-in campaign:

Post-Dispatch:

Under state law, Franks has to sign a declaration of intent and deliver it the Board of Election Commissioners by March 24 to become certified as a write-in candidate. 

Fox2:

Earlier Thursday afternoon, Franks sent a tweet posing a simple question: has St. Louis elected a write-in candidate as mayor?

Franks has until March 24 to obtain the necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent, and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners to appear on the ballot.

And KMOV:

In order for Franks to be on the April 4 ballot, state law requires franks get necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners by March 24. 

The last two mention required signatures but the first doesn’t. All three mention a declaration of intent. So what’s the deal? Let’s start with Fox2’s last sentence:  “Franks has until March 24 to obtain the necessary signatures, sign a declaration of intent, and deliver them to the Board of Election Commissioners to appear on the ballot.” (Emphasis added)

Yes, signatures are required if a candidate wants to appear on a general election ballot as an independent (non-party) candidate. A write-in candidate, however, is trying to get voters to write-in their name because they’re not on the ballot.

I shouldn’t be surprised some media didn’t get this right, the St. Louis Board of Elections page How To File For Office fails to explain th three types of candidacy: political party, independent, and write-in.  The Missouri Secretary of State website does a much better job of explaining this to candidates:

Primary Election August 7, 2018
The 2018 primary will be held on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 (the 1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in August for even numbered years, Section 115.121.2, RSMo.). The filing period for candidates for the August 2018 primary election is from February 27, 2018 and ends at 5:00 p.m. on March 27, 2018. (Section 115.349, RSMo.) Individuals voting in the primary election may select a party ballot of his or her choice. 

Voters who do not wish to select a party ballot may request a ballot containing other issues, if their jurisdiction’s ballot contains issues.

The five established parties in Missouri are: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green, and Constitution.

 

Independent Candidates
Deadline for submitting petitions for independent candidate nominations for the November 6, 2018 election: 5:00 p.m. July 30, 2018 (Section 115.329.1, RSMo.)

 

Write-in Candidates
Deadline for submitting a write-in candidate declaration of intent for the November 6, 2018 election: 5:00 p.m. October 26, 2018 (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.)

A write-in candidate is a person whose name is not printed on the ballot (Section 115.453(4-6), RSMo.) and who has filed a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate for election to office with the proper election authority prior to 5:00 p.m. on October 26, 2018 (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.) It is not necessary to file a declaration of intent if there are no candidates on the ballot for that office (Section 115.453(4), RSMo.)

 

Establishing a New Party
The deadline for submitting petitions for new parties and candidate nominations for the November 6, 2018 election is 5:00 p.m. on July 30, 2018 (Section 115.329.1, RSMo.) Please contact the Elections Division for more information at 573-751-2301 or email at [email protected]

Locally officials don’t want the public to know how to run, but the April 4th ballot includes 6 candidates for mayor.  Writing in a name for someone not officially declared as an independent candidate doesn’t count — even if that name got the most votes.

— Steve Patterson

 

Sunday Poll: Do You Accept Lewis Reed’s Apology (UPDATED)

Please vote below
Please vote below

UPDATE:

This poll was manipulated by mass voting.

Last week a radio interview from January 11th began spreading like crazy on social media and the news:

For anyone who’s ever listened to Bob Romanik’s On the Dark Side radio talk show on 1190 AM, it should come as no surprise that a recent episode is drawing controversy. After all, the ex-strip club owner/police chief and convicted felon is always coming after his political and personal enemies with a mixture of wild insults and abhorrent threats, all book-ended by the show’s trademark rainstorm sound effects as though forecasting the flood of complaints that’s to come.

So it’s not exactly news that Romanik tried to discredit 15th ward alderwoman Megan Green last month by calling her a “good-for-nothing, skanky bitch” who, in his words, deserves to be literally flushed down the toilet and sexually violated by a storybook character. For veterans of Romanik’s radio wars, it’s more of the same. (St. Louis Magazine)

Romanik’s guest was Lewis Reed, President of the Board of Aldermen.

Short version: 2:50 minutes:

Long version: 12:34 minutes:

After this became controversial Reed apologized in a series of tweets:

Click image to view the top tweet on Twitter
Click image to view the top tweet on Twitter

Today’s poll question:

[results deleted]

This poll will be open for 12 hours, will close at 8pm.

— Steve Patterson

 

Tax Scams Make Sensational News But Media Fails To Mention Adjusting Withholding To Reduce/Eliminate Refund

March 13, 2015 Crime, Economy, Featured, Media, Taxes Comments Off on Tax Scams Make Sensational News But Media Fails To Mention Adjusting Withholding To Reduce/Eliminate Refund
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I’ve circled the three places on KMOV’s home page where “Tax Cheats” stories appeared

When we watch television (vs Netflix, etc) it’s usually CBS — KMOV 4.1 here — unfortunately their promos on tax scams/cheats seem nonstop. Wednesday morning I checked local news sources for similar reports. KMOV had 3 mentions on their homepage, the others didn’t — but many had stories from this month:

These stories are designed to frighten you into worrying about someone steeling your refund — you go to file and someone else has already filed a return for you — taking your refund.  Meanwhile, commercials for auto dealers talk about using your refund as a down payment — some will even double it.  So a $3,000 refund becomes a $6,000 down payment.

Many get excited by a big refund — the bigger the better. The ideal, however, is little or no refund. Why? If you get a huge refund it means you’ve lent the federal & state governments your money interest-free.  A $7800 refund means you could’ve had another $15 in your pocket every week — $65/month.  I know some people use their refund as a savings plan, if so, put that amount into a savings plan every pay period rather than letting Uncle Sam hold it. In savings it’ll earn interest and should an emergency arise  — like car trouble — you can access your money.

You want your withholding set so you get little to nothing back at tax time. You can use the IRS’s Withholding Calculator to determine how your W-4 should be completed.

If you get a big annual tax refund you are leaving yourself vulnerable to fraud.

— Steve Patterson

 

The Streetsblog Network Expands By Adding Southeast US, Ohio, Texas, and St. Louis

January 30, 2015 Featured, Media, STL Region 3 Comments

The Streetsblog Network yesterday expanded into new territory: adding coverage in the Southeast United States, the states of Ohio & Texas, and the St. Louis region.

Streetsblog St. Louis launched yesterday.
Streetsblog St. Louis launched yesterday.

From yesterday’s post announcing the expansion:

A little more than six years ago, we launched the Streetsblog Network as a way for people across the country writing about livable streets, sustainable transportation, and smart growth to band together and share ideas. There are many wonderful things about the Streetsblog Network, but I would put this is at the top of my list: It is both profoundly local, full of people working on the nitty-gritty of street design, transit service, and planning issues in their hometowns, and broadly distributed, with hundreds of members operating in cities all over the nation.

For a long time we’ve been thinking about how to build on these strengths. And today we’re going live with a new way to channel the energy of the Streetsblog Network and broadcast it to the world.

We are launching affiliate sites that combine the work of Streetsblog Network members in four regions: St. Louis, Ohio, Texas, and the Southeast. These sites are based on a different model than our other city-based Streetsblogs with full-time staff. Each Streetsblog affiliate syndicates material from several blogs in its region and runs a daily dose of headlines to satisfy the universal craving for morning news. Have a look. (Doesn’t it blow your mind to see the words “Streetsblog Texas” in a site banner?)

The post continues with a list of blog included for each new area, here’s the St. Louis list:

Streetsblog St. Louis:

I’m honored to have UrbanReviewSTL be included as one of four blogs representing St. Louis! Be sure to check out Streetsblog St. Louis at stl.streetsblog.org. Also visit Streetfilms for excellent videos.

— Steve Patterson

 

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