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French & Patterson on KDHX’s Collateral Damage Tonight, 7pm

December 18, 2006 Media 1 Comment

Antonio French of PubDef and yours truly will be on KDHX’s Collateral Damage program tonight at 7pm. Among the topics we’ll be discussing is the 6th Ward issue over new ward organization members and the case of the missing by-laws. Other likely topics will be the immediate future of the St. Louis Public Schools (note to self: read the state’s report), and recent changes on Cherokee Street. If you have suggestions for other topics for us to discuss use the comments section below.


“You” Are Time’s Person of the Year

December 17, 2006 Media 5 Comments

Time Magazine has named “You” their 2006 Person of the Year. Time says they could have named many individuals from 2006 stories, and they go on to name a number of world-wide events, then write:

“But, look at 2006 through a different lens and you’ll see another story, one that isn’t about conflict or great men. It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web. Not the Web that Tim Berners-Lee hacked together (15 years ago, according to Wikipedia) as a way for scientists to share research. It’s not even the overhyped dotcom Web of the late 1990s. The new Web is a very different thing. It’s a tool for bringing together the small contributions of millions of people and making them matter. Silicon Valley consultants call it Web 2.0, as if it were a new version of some old software. But it’s really a revolution.”

We’ve certainly seen this revolution here in St. Louis as this blog and others has changed the face of local politics and media. From Antonio French’s outstanding videos, some receiving national attention, to the Urban St. Louis discussion forum the community is coming together online to discuss ideas, expression visions and coordinate efforts.  The only folks not on board with the revolution are our leaders, the group desperately trying to freeze time or hope this whole internet communication thing blows over.  We are fully within the information age and it is about time St. Louis’ leadership begins to understand that.  After all, we are Time’s Person of the Year.


Remember the Days Before Naming Rights?

December 11, 2006 Media, St. Louis County 12 Comments

Maybe I’m more old fashioned than I thought.  I generally like new and progressive thinking but naming rights just has me upset.  Imagine if New York’s Empire State Building had gone through naming rights changes every 5-10 years?  No, I like my buildings to have a name literally etched in stone.  Locally we’ve seen the Kiel Center become the Savvis Center only to become, earlier this year, the Scottrade Center.  Riverport became UMB Bank Pavillion.  I’m sure you can think of others.
Today I read that the Rams’ athletic field in Earth City is being named for Russell Athletics, from the St. Louis Business Journal:

The St. Louis Rams said Friday that the organization signed a deal with Russell Athletic to permanently rename Rams Park, the team’s Earth City, Mo., training ground and media center complex, Russell Athletic Training Center, Home of the St. Louis Rams.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Russell President Doug Kelly said the five-year deal will cost in the seven figures. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

WTF?  In the first paragraph the writer says they are going to “permanently rename” the facility yet in the very next sentence notes it is a “five-year deal.”   Does five years now equal permanent in terms of building names? Given much of the quality of new construction maybe that is about right.
Of course we also have naming issues outside of special deals.  Why someone thought trying to call City Hospital the Georgian is beyond me.  Yes, City Hospital Condos maybe doesn’t look so elegant on the marketing literature but everyone knows the building as City Hospital.  Why mess with something that works?   Developers want to change the name of the Chemical Building downtown.  I’m sure you have more examples.

And finally, why aren’t corporate sponsors lining up to put their names on our increasing number of parking garages?  Maybe the Taylor family would like to have the ‘Enterprise Parking Garage at the Old Post Office’? Then the developers would have some more money so perhaps they could buy a nice bronze plaque commemorating the historic Century Building they razed.


Mayor Slay’s Spin Machine Goes to Eleven

December 7, 2006 Media, Politics/Policy 29 Comments

It seems St. Louis received a World Leadership Award yesterday. From MayorSlay.com:

Recently, I told you that the City of St. Louis had been nominated from among 400 cities by the World Leadership Forum as a finalist for a World Leadership Award.

According to the Forum, the nominations were made to “cities whose leaders have shown exceptional imagination, foresight or resilience in a number of key fields — especially cities that have reversed trends, shaken off traditional images, and acted as an example and inspiration to others.”

St. Louis was nominated in the category, Urban Renewal. The other category finalists were Calcutta, India; Manchester, England; and Kansas City.

The finalist presentations were in London yesterday. The awards were presented tonight.

We won. Congratulations, St. Louis.

Well, hold on there Richard Callow, Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay. Nominated? Well, that would mean that someone had to nominate St. Louis? But that isn’t what really happened. From a World Leadership Forum press release:

Early in 2006 the World Leadership Forum contacted leaders in 400 of the world’s largest cities, and asked them to submit synopses of their most successful projects. These projects covered a very wide range of activities spanning the environment, urban renewal, housing, health, town planning, architecture, civil engineering, education, development of the young, the economy and employment.

This was a competition that St. Louis entered, as did all the other cities in the competition. St. Louis was not “nominated in the category, Urban Renewal” — that was the category the city selected when submitting the entry. This basically PR BS.

Still, competitions are good so the idea of entering one that is world-wide is fine. Winning is even better. Why the spin of “nominated” I don’t quite get but I usually don’t understand why many things are done the way they are around City Hall and especially Room 200.

A couple of things trouble me about the “nominations” and the short list of finalists. First, unlike other competitions where they announce the total number of entries, these do not. We know that 29 cities were shortlisted as finalists in 11 categories. That is great if they received 300 entries but not so great if they only received 30. As an example, earlier this year the ULI (Urban Land Institute) held their annual design competition in St. Louis. We know that 81 teams submitted entries which was narrowed to 16 and then to the final four before a winning entry was named best. The total number of entries speaks to the credibility of the competition. Back to these awards, the ‘Urban Renewal’ category had four finalists with the other three being Kansas City (An Urban Renaissance), City of Manchester (Shaping the City) and City of Kolkata (Holistic Urban Renewal through Strategic Initiatives). Their rules say they will select 2-4 finalists so I have to wonder if that is determined by the number of entries —three entries=three finalists, four entries=four finalists?

The second thing that bothers me, this World Leadership Forum organization seems to exist only to give out awards — that is what they do. Their site lists a number of award programs. And once a finalist you must pay a “presentation fee” of £3,000 (roughly $5,900 US based on current exchange rates):

Cities reaching the shortlists (from two four in each category) will be required to pay a fee of £3,000 to cover the presentation and judging costs (venue hire, audiovisual equipment, crew, catering, judges travel expenses etc.), as well as the cost of a table at the award ceremony (the table seats up to ten guests and includes complimentary cocktails, dinner, wine programs etc.).

Cities which fail to pay the fee within 30 days of the invoice date will be disqualified from the awards.

Cities that do not reach the shortlists will not be charged any fees.

So St. Louis submits an entry called “Strategy for Renewal.” Entries are supposed to be “up to 5,000 words, in English, describing a project your city has recently undertaken which shows exceptional levels of leadership.” Have you seen this document? I know I have not! Where is the link to the document Mayor Slay? Please let us read about our own winning strategy and our “exceptional levels of leadership.”
The 29 finalists presented in London this week and the awards were presented yesterday following the last of the judging. So besides wondering what we submitted I am curious who we sent to London to make the presentation to the judges. Did we pay for a contingent to go there and fill that table for 10? Who went? Were additional materials presented to the judges? If so, what?

The Kansas City Star reports they sent three people: Mayor, City Manager and President of their Chamber of Commerce. The Publisher of Kansas City business magazine Ingram’s had this to say last month:

As I write this, city leaders are preparing to present our story as a World Leadership Award Winner. Kansas City is one of only four cites on the globe selected as a finalist in the category of urban renewal. We at Ingram’s are proud to strategically position the City for this award by crafting The Urban Renewal Business Report—a Decade of Redevelopment in Downtown Kansas City. This publication will be presented to the judges and the attendees of the World Leadership Awards in London next month. Forgive me if I shed my Midwestern modesty and say that I think Kansas City has a damn good shot of beating Calcutta, Manchester and St. Louis for the title.

Locally KSDK is reporting the big news of the win:

Wednesday night, Mayor Francis Slay accepted the Urban Renewal Award at the annual World Leadership Awards in London.

Slay says it’s recognition for the city that it’s moving in the right direction.

“The more that we get affirmation from organizations not only nationally, but in this case internationally, of the successes we’ve been able to achieve, it really creates much more momentum here locally, more people become believers and as more people become believers the momentum continues to grow,” Mayor Francis Slay said.

I’ll be impressed after I read our entry into the competition as well as know the total number entries. And for those of you too young to get the headline, click here.

[Update 12/7/06 @ 7:20pm — I checked the Mayor’s site and a few hours after the item quoted above was from the Mayor’s Desk they posted a much more reasonable sounding item in the Latest News section (link). At no point in this piece is the word “nomination” used:

In the presentation, Slay talked about how the City of St. Louis had created a “culture of change” that has empowered people to improve the City’s quality of life. “It isn’t just bricks and mortar,” Slay said. “We are certainly revitalizing Downtown and our neighborhoods. But, we are also addressing health care, education, affordable housing, and homelessness.”

More than 400 cities around the world were asked to submit synopses of their most successful projects in a wide range of activities.

The other finalists in the Urban Renewal category were Kansas City; Manchester, England; and Calcutta, India. Last year’s winner was Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

This is a word for word match to the press release on the city’s site. The only difference being the city’s press release site doesn’t include the picture of Planning & Urban Design Director in his kilt next to Mayor Slay. OK, so they toned down the “nomination” lines, I still want to see this award-winning urban renewal strategy.]

[Update 12/8/06 @ 7am — I received an email back from Malcolm Turner of the The World Leadership Forum saying this about the number of entries and showing the projects:

I’m afraid it’s not our policy to publish details, or numbers of entries which failed to make the shortlists.

I’m also sorry to say that we don’t currently have the necessary copyright permission which would enable us to publish the winning entries on our website.

Sorry folks but this organization and their awards cannot possibly be taken seriously if we are not permitted to know how many of these 400 cities responded to the invite. Real competitions have no problems letting you know how many submittals they received and thus how many did not make the final cut. Our winning entry may well be outstanding but the award is bogus in my opinion.]


St. Louis Magazine’s “50 Power Players” Online

December 4, 2006 Media, Site Info 4 Comments

stlmag_1206A couple of weeks ago I did a post about St. Louis Magazine’s ’50 Most Powerful in 2006′ list in their December 2006 issue, with me rounding out the list at #50. If you’ve still not picked up a copy you can conveniently read the entire list online, just click here. However, if you want to see the nice pic of me on my scooter on a closed Washington Ave (thank you McGowan’s & St. Louis Cardinals) you will need to purchase the print edition.  From the intro to the piece:

“You think it’s easy to rank this city’s heavy hitters? Try it. Everyone knew who carried the biggest stick back during the reign of Civic Progress, but in these days of fragmented power, it’s a bit harder to separate influence peddlers from petty insiders”

Some of us were also asked to name five people we thought were powerful and influential in St. Louis. See who Jeff Smith, Joe Edwards, The Gills, Peter Raven, myself and others listed as powerful in St. Louis, here.

So, check out the full list and use the comments section below to add people that you think are missing but should be included, perhaps to name those that you don’t think belong on the list or even suggest a different order.